OLYMPIA, Wash. — Justice James Johnson, who stepped down from the Washington State Supreme Court on April 30 citing health concerns, will be joining a new team he believes reflects his values.
Johnson has accepted a post as senior fellow with the Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based nonprofit, nonpartisan think and action tank promoting free markets, limited government and greater transparency.
“I’ve traveled all over the world,” Johnson said, “and I’ve seen enough government systems to know what works and what doesn’t work. And what doesn’t work is the sort of one-party, government-knows-all system Washington state has lived under for too many years of its history.
“I believe our constitution was written to protect the people against infringement on their freedom – including from the government — not to empower any one party or political ideology,” he said. “The Freedom Foundation does more than any other organization in Washington to advance those same goals and promote a robust, open debate about our state’s future. I’m proud to lend my voice to the cause.”
Johnson was first elected to the Washington State Supreme Court in 2004. He is a life-long Washingtonian, born in Seattle and attending Ingraham High School.
Johnson graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in economics and obtained his law degree from the University of Washington.
He spent two years in the United States Army, Ninth Infantry Division, including serving as that Division’s Top Secret control officer and Dive Team commander.
Johnson next spent 20 years serving as a Washington state assistant attorney general, heading first the Fish and Wildlife Division and later the Special Litigation Division with responsibility for legal services to 25 state agencies and for major litigation involving the state.
He served as counsel for the environment and personally tried major cases involving power dams and nuclear facilities to protect fish and wildlife. Also of high importance were elections-related constitutional cases, many of which went to the Washington or United States Supreme Court.
Upon leaving the Attorney General’s Office in 1993, Johnson enjoyed a successful private practice in Olympia, where he practiced until his election to the Supreme Court.
“Unfortunately, we can no longer rely on our present political system alone to safeguard our freedoms,” Johnson said, “because politicians are too often the ones eroding those freedoms in the first place. We need organizations like the Freedom Foundation to ask the right questions and demand the right answers.”
“Jim Johnson is the most courageous man I know,” said Tom McCabe, the organization’s CEO. “For 35 years, he’s battled the liberal juggernaut in our state on behalf of individuals whose liberties were threatened.
“The Freedom Foundation was a force to be reckoned with before,” McCabe said. “The addition of Justice James Johnson makes us all the more formidable.”