Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson submitted his resignation to Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday and will retire effective Dec. 31.
Johnson, 74, has served for 13 years on the court after former Gov. Rick Perry appointed him in 2005. Previously, he had served as chief justice of the Amarillo-based 7th Court of Appeals.
“You feel like in this position you can make a difference. The law is the superstructure of society, the framework for doing what we can do,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’ll miss that I was contributing. That’s what I’ll miss about it.”
The news comes just days after the 2018 midterm elections in which three other Republican incumbents were re-elected to the court.
Johnson was last re-elected in 2014 and his term extends through 2020. Gov. Greg Abbott may appoint a judge to replace him for the rest of his term, according to the Texas Election Code. Abbott’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
With 13 years on the bench, Johnson is the third most senior justice currently serving on the court, after Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justice Paul Green. Fellow justices will miss his steadfast wisdom, they said.
“He is a prince. He is just the quintessential gentleman — unflappable and a steady hand on the court,” said Justice Jeff Brown.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2018/11/08/texas-supreme-court-justice-phil-johnson-retire/. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.