Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton must face an ethics lawsuit by state attorney regulators over a case he brought challenging results of the 2020 election, according to a court ruling posted on Monday.
Judge Casey Blair on Friday denied Paxton’s bid to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds. Blair said he was not ruling on the merits of the case.
The ruling is a setback for Paxton, who had argued that his work as the top Texas state lawyer was beyond the reach of Texas attorney ethics regulators. Potential penalties if the case succeeds could include suspension or disbarment.
The Texas State Bar, an agency that oversees licensed attorneys in the state, filed the lawsuit against Paxton in state court in Dallas last May. The complaint said Paxton made “dishonest” statements in a lawsuit that sought to toss 2020 election votes in four states.
The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the election challenge in December 2020.
Paxton’s lawyers told the Texas court that the bar’s allegations were tied to his “performance of his official duties” and that seeking to discipline him “is tantamount to a judicial veto over the exercise of executive discretion.”
The state bar countered that Texas attorney conduct rules “apply to any attorney engaged in the practice of law regardless of their position.”
Technically, this lawsuit was filed in Collin County, per State Bar rules. Both sides filed their briefs in July, and the hearing was in August. Paxton’s argument was basically that the State Bar had no authority over him in this matter, which the judge (a Republican from Kaufman County) rejected.
Assuming this doesn’t get appealed or is upheld on appeal, there will be a hearing on the merits. If that goes well, we may finally get some form of accountability for our lawless Attorney General. Note that a similar lawsuit filed against Paxton’s First Assistant Brent Webster was dismissed in September when the judge in that case bought the same argument about separation of powers. That ruling is under appeal; if there’s been any further news about it, I’ve not seen it.
So there you have it. Stay patient, there’s still a long way to go. MSNBC has more.