Justice James M. Johnson is leaving the Washington State Supreme Court because of "recent health concerns."
He served on the high court for ten years, and is an Army veteran and a Harvard graduate. Everyone from Chief Justice Barbara Madsen to Governor Jay Inslee has wished him well.
That said, Justice Johnson will be remembered for, among other things, working against the fishing rights of Native Americans, dissenting from the court's push to get the legislature to fully fund basic education, and voting (with ex-Justice Richard B. Sanders) against the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2006.
A majority of the court was with Justice Johnson in declining to to legalize gay marriage that year. But, Justice Johnson's explanation for his vote in the gay marriage case was "particularly inappropriate," according to Chief Justice Madsen. He cited dubious "scientific findings" and spoke of "the unique and binary biological nature of marriage and its exclusive link with procreation and responsible child rearing."
Governor Inslee, a supporter of gay marriage, will appoint someone to replace Justice Johnson for now. In November, voters will weigh in.