Attorney General Ken Paxton telling county clerks they do not have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is not a sign of “professional misconduct,” according to the State Bar of Texas.
The organization last week dismissed a complaint filed against the embattled top prosecutor by more than 200 Texas attorneys, who argued that he “violated his own official oath of office” by issuing a written opinion stating that clerks and public officials could ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
In an Aug. 3 notice obtained by The Texas Tribune, the State Bar said, “The Chief Disciplinary Counsel has determined that there is no just cause to believe that [Paxton] has committed professional misconduct.”
In a statement to the Tribune, Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander lauded the decision, saying, “We are happy — but not surprised — that this meritless complaint was finally dismissed.”
Steve Fischer, a former director of the State Bar of Texas and one of the attorneys who filed the complaint, said that while he didn’t get the result he wanted, there is “no further interest to continue the grievance.”
“We sort of made our point that he can’t tell clerks to disobey a Supreme Court’s ruling,” he said. “It’s the law of the land. He’s entitled to his own personal opinion, but he should draw a line.”