The worst judge in Texas

I admit, the competition for this is fierce, and we should draw a distinction between state and federal jurists, but no matter how you define it, Supreme Court Justice John Devine is a strong contender for the title.

Speaking to a group of East Texas voters in September, state Supreme Court Justice John Devine cast himself as the antidote to his “brainwashed” colleagues on the all-Republican bench.

Their “Big Law” backgrounds, he said, had taught them to worry more about legal procedures — “standing, timeliness, or whatever else” — than their duty to uphold the Constitution.

“At times I feel like they would sacrifice the Republic for the sake of the process,” Devine said in the speech, a recording of which was obtained by The Texas Tribune. “My concern is that they all bow down to the altar of process rather than to fidelity to the Constitution. And when I say that, it’s not meant to be malice towards my colleagues. I think it’s how they were trained — how they were brainwashed.”

Particularly egregious, he said, was their ruling against Jeff Younger, a former Texas House candidate who had for years waged a public war against his ex-wife over their young child’s gender identity. In 2022, Younger asked the court to stop his ex from moving their child to California, which had recently passed a refuge law shielding parents fleeing from states that restrict gender-transitioning care for minors from prosecution.

The court declined to hear Younger’s lawsuit, which two justices argued was riddled with errors and based on “tenuous speculation” that the ex-wife would violate a standing court order that already prevented her from pursuing gender-transition therapies for the child.

Devine was still angry at his colleagues when he spoke at the September event.

“I’m not going to stand here sanctimoniously and say, ‘Well he didn’t cross a T or dot an I,’” he said of Younger. “We are talking about great constitutional issues here that will determine whether we survive as a representative republic or not. Are we going to just have it stolen from us? Over process for crying out loud?”

The audio is a rare glimpse into Texas’ typically-insular high court and window into the judicial philosophy of Devine, a former anti-abortion activist whose tenure as a jurist has been shaped by his religious beliefs and deeply conservative politics — sometimes, his critics say, at the expense of his impartiality.

Those concerns are now the focus of an unusually heated primary election for the relatively unknown Texas Supreme Court. Devine is the only justice with a challenger in the statewide, March 5 race, and his opponent, Second District Court of Appeals Judge Brian Walker, has centered his campaign on questions about Devine’s ethics dating back to the mid-1990s.

“We have a judge who just continues to violate ethical rules and the code of judicial conduct that’s written by the Texas Supreme Court itself,” Walker said in an interview. “And if the people can’t trust that judges are going to follow even their own rules, then they’ll have very little confidence that the rule of law truly will prevail.”

It’s a long story and you should read the rest, after you pick yourself up from the floor at the notion that Devine’s “impartiality” is only sometimes affected by his wacko beliefs. In addition to being terrible at his job and totally unconcerned with the law, Devine is also a walking ethics violation and good pals with a couple of horrible sex offenders. You don’t have to be even a moderate to think he’s completely unfit to be a judge, but as a Planned Parenthood clinic defender in the 90s, my grudge against John Devine is decades long and as deep as the ocean. To whatever extent the Find Out PAC is serious about their mission, getting John Devine off the bench has to be a top priority. If you can’t raise a couple million bucks to oust that guy in the year 2024, then I don’t know what we’re doing here.

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