Can Ken Paxton be sanctioned for his seditious lawsuit?

One group is going to try. I wish them luck.

Felons for autocracy!

A national lawyers group on Monday called for professional licensing bodies to investigate what it called a “breach of ethical rules” by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and 17 of his counterparts in red states who sued in the Supreme Court last week in a vain attempt to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win in four states in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Lawyers Defending American Democracy, a nonpartisan group that says it has the support of 5,000 lawyers across the country, said in a statement that Paxton and his fellow Republican state attorneys general filed an “abusive lawsuit” that pushed groundless theories that erode confidence in vital institutions.

“The historically unprecedented attack on our democracy needs to be met by historically unprecedented state bar investigations,” said the group.

It called for the state bar of Texas, and its lawyer-licensing counterparts in other states, to investigate unprofessional conduct by not only the state attorneys general but any lawyers among the 126 GOP members of Congress who supported the suit.

“We call on state licensing authorities to promptly investigate the breach of ethical rules by these public officials and all lawyers participating in the filing of this Supreme Court petition,” the group said.

“They must not shrink from applying established ethical rules to discipline those officials.”

See here for the background, and here for the statement. I completely agree, and there were calls for sanctions a few weeks ago against Trump’s lawyers for their obviously dishonest filings. The case for bringing sanctions against Paxton as well is based on the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which are adapted in some form in every state, which states that a lawyer shall not bring a suit “unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous.” But to even get to the State Bar of Texas with your complaint, first you need someone to file it, and then you have a difficult task getting them to agree with you.

“If history is any guide, it’s extremely unlikely that any of these lawyers are going to face disciplinary sanctions,” says Deborah Rhode, an ethics scholar at Stanford Law School and another co-author of Legal Ethics. “The bar is just, historically, extremely reluctant to take on anything that isn’t a clear, easily provable violation of disciplinary rules, and that has any kind of political overtones.” Moreover, she notes that bar disciplinary processes are underfunded and overworked. This issue came up in multiple conversations with experts: a lack of funding, expertise, and political will to investigate established or high-profile lawyers. “I think if you had a more robust disciplinary process with the likelihood that there would be professional consequences, that would be significant, that would be a deterrent,” she says. “But we’re a long way from that process.”

“This has been a persistent complaint that a lot of people in the legal ethics world have made about our discipline systems for years, which is that they don’t work that well,” says Luban. Most bar complaints do not lead to public sanctions, and that’s particularly true for the well-connected. It’s easier for underfunded committees to sanction solo practitioners, but they leave the big fish largely untouched.

Much as I’d like to see Ken Paxton suffer some professional consequences for his anti-American actions, the best we’re likely to get is to vote his sorry ass out of office. And to root for the various prosecutors and plaintiffs lining up against him. No one ever said life was fair.

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5 Responses to Can Ken Paxton be sanctioned for his seditious lawsuit?

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    “Lawyers Defending American Democracy, a nonpartisan group….”

    Can anyone link me to this group supporting Trump on anything, or at least, supporting any conservative position….on anything?

    Calling yourself non partisan /= actually non partisan

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Yup…..just as I suspected….SUPER non partisan. Totally.

  3. Lobo says:


    Bill: In American usage, *nonpartisan* generally refers to lack of affiliation with a political party, which is an organization recognized and regulated by statutes, such as the Texas Election Code. As you are surely aware, we have both partisan and nonpartisan elections, which reflects this distinction. See, e.g., definition of independent candidate. Tex. Elec. Code 1.005(9)(“Independent candidate” means a candidate in a nonpartisan election or a candidate in a partisan election who is not the nominee of a political party.”).

    Nonpartisan isn’t synonymous with neutrality on political or social issues, or objectivity.

    Nonpartisan candidates have beliefs and take positions, and are often members of political parties, even if not identified on the ballot.

    Nonpartisan groups/orgs are typically devoted to certain normative principles or set of beliefs (“isms” if you will). Like, for example, the idea that democracy is a desirable form of government, that high political participation in elections and the political process is a good thing, that good government is preferable over no government or incompetent or abusive government, or that all people have certain human rights that should not be alienated, or that human right extend to basic needs, like food, shelter, medical care. Some nonpartisan organization just want people to be better educated, think more rationally, care about the public interest and the weaker and disadvantaged strata of society, and promote the idea of being good citizens. Some can even be described as altruistic.

    Nonpartisan organizations may include adherents of Democrats, Republicans, or minor parties.


    As for etymology and the world history context, the Partisans were the bands of locals hiding in the woods led by Josip Broz Tito who fought the German Wehrmacht in occupied Yugoslavia in WWII. These guys were on our side then, though a bit on the red side, ideologically speaking (Communist). Tito later broke with Stalin, and took Yugoslavia his own – the non-aligned – way. Which — in the era of global bipolarity– meant not being allied with either West (US + Nato) nor East (USSR + Warsaw Pact). Non-alignment has its special meaning to. Not synonymous with nonpartisan, but analogy can be drawn with being nonpartisan in a two-parity system.

  4. Bill Daniels says:


    I’m going to give you points on the technical argument of word definition, and I appreciate the history lesson, although I wonder if the term partisans arose simultaneously in Italy at the same time. The Italian resistance of the puppet Mussolini government was going on the same time Tito’s communists were doing their thing.

    Having said that, this group of ‘non partisan’ lawyers is clearly an affinity group of confirmed leftists, in the same way the blm and antifa are confirmed leftists. There’s not one person belonging to any of those three groups that is voting for Trump, for any Republican, or any conservative. So, non partisan? Can we at least admit that descriptor is simply thrown out as a red herring, to make the reader THINK, hey, these are a group of folks from across the ideological spectrum? Note they don’t describe themselves as a group of like minded leftists, which would be a more HONEST descriptor of their group.

  5. Jules says:

    Nonpartisan probably refers to a 501(c)3 organization as defined by the IRS.

    It does not mean an organization must take an equal number of positions on issues that Democrats believe in (like democracy) and Republicans believe in (like seditious crybabying).

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