Randy Johnston Discusses Supreme Court Ethics in Look at Top Texas Legal Stories of 2023

Randy Johnston offered his insights on the third-most impactful story in a countdown of the “Top 10 Texas Legal News for 2023” published in Texas Lawbook.

Mr. Johnson discussed both the ethical concerns and practical concerns arising from revelations of extravagant gifts and other financial arrangements between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and several wealthy, conservative-leaning benefactors, most notably a high-profile Dallas billionaire.

“I was totally shocked that had occurred. When the public loses respect for the integrity of the judicial process, courts mean nothing,” Mr. Johnston said. “The appearance of impropriety is so strong that it undermines the judicial process.”

In response to the controversy, the Supreme Court announced its first formal code of conduct, codifying that justices should not let outside relationships influence their official conduct or judgment, spelling out restrictions on participation in fundraising and reiterating limits on gifts. The new code drew mixed reviews, with some critics noting the apparent absence of any enforcement mechanism.

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