Colorado Attorney General John Suthers weighs in on upcoming Colorado Supreme Court retention elections
A recent article in The Business Word newsblog quoted a statement by Colorado’s Attorney General John Suthers on how he intends to vote in the upcoming retention elections for the Colorado Supreme Court. As the state’s top law enforcement official, the Attorney General’s statement carries significant weight, and is remarkable for taking such a strong stand.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers this morning said he will vote no on three of four state supreme court justices who are up for retention in November’s elections and yes on Justice Nancy Rice.
Suthers will vote against retaining Chief Judge Mary Mullarkey and judges Alex Martinez and Michael Bender, he told the Arapahoe County Republican Men’s Club breakfast at the Cool River Cafe in Greenwood Village. Most Republicans are supporting the effort to deny retention of all four justices who are up for retention.
Although Attorney General Suthers falls somewhat short of endorsing the non-retention of ALL of the four Colorado Supreme Court justices who are up for a retention vote this year, his strong endorsement of a “NO” vote for 3 out of 4 sitting justices is remarkable. As the state’s top official with specific responsibility to “represent and defend the legal interests of the people of the State of Colorado and its sovereignty” his statement is a clear condemnation of the disregard for the “legal interests of the people” demonstrated time and again by the Mullarkey Majority on the Colorado Supreme Court.
In the case of Justice Nancy Rice, Clear The Bench Colorado continues to take the position that, on balance, she has not consistently met the high standards of excellence we should have the right to expect from the justices on our highest court, although she does on occasion demonstrate flashes of excellent jurisprudence (her dissent in the Lobato v. Colorado case, for example, was superbly written and argued, demonstrating a depth of insight and respect for the rule of law that should be the norm). Although reasonable people may disagree with our conclusions, we believe that an objective review of Justice Rice’s rulings on a number of key, constitutionally significant cases still supports a “NO” vote on her retention in office in the November 2010 elections.
Attorney General Suthers was particularly clear in his condemnation of Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey:
Mullarkey is widely despised by Colorado’s Republicans because she and the other four justices are so blatantly partisan in deciding politically controversial cases. If Mullarkey is retained as chief justice this year, next year she will appoint four members of a commission that will redistrict the state. And she will appoint the most reliably Democrat partisans she can find. She and her court also have blatantly supported unconstitutional increases in fees and taxes that have been enacted under Democrat Governor Bill Ritter without having the tax and fee increases taken to voters as required by TABOR.
However, Clear The Bench Colorado must take issue with the conclusion of the otherwise excellent article:
Of course, if the justices have to be replaced, their removal will mean something only if a Republican is elected governor this year.
This statement could not be more wrong – on several levels.
Granted, Republicans DO have a strong motivation to remove these Colorado Supreme Court justices who are not only activist, but openly partisan in many of their rulings and statements. They have inserted themselves into the political process on multiple occasions, consistently on the side of one-party rule in this state. The extreme partisanship of the ruling majority, and the Chief Justice in particular, becomes even more significant in light of the extensive power exerted by the court in the (state-level) reapportionment and (Congressional) redistricting that will occur following the 2010 census. That power will be decisive regardless of who holds the governor’s office – even if Republicans win, but DON’T Clear The Bench, they will still lose in reapportionment (6-5) AND redistricting (in the inevitable court case, as occurred after the 2000 census in the Salazar v. Davidson redistricting case).
However, although the partisan nature of these ‘unjust justices’ is part of the problem, it is by no means the only problem – or even the worst of it. The unjust justices of the Mullarkey Majority have undermined the rule of law and damaged our judicial institutions by repeatedly and blatantly disregarding the clear letter and intent of the Colorado Constitution – which they are sworn to uphold. They have forsaken their proper role as “referees” in favor of becoming “players” in order to advance a personal agenda – which is not what we should expect (what we should demand) of a good judge. Voting “NO” on these unjust justices in November 2010 not only removes these particular ”bad judges” from office, but sends a powerful message that We The People can and will hold the judicial branch accountable to their oath and proper function of upholding the law and our constitutional rights.
Finally (for the less high-minded among us), the Mullarkey Majority has repeatedly aided and abetted the unconstitutional seizure of property through eminent domain abuse, increase of property taxes, elimination of tax credits and exemptions, and imposition of taxes disguised as “fees” (most notoriously the FASTER car tax – er, registration “fee” increase) that hits each and every one of us deep in the wallet. Put simply, they are accomplices to legalized theft.
Don’t let them get away with it! Exercise YOUR right to vote “NO” on the four ‘unjust justices’ of the Mullarkey Majority (Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice, and Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey) who need YOUR approval to continue taking away your constitutional rights: your right to vote on tax increases, your right to defend your homes and business from seizure by rapacious governments, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of suffering rule by activist, agenda-driven “justices.” Please help support Clear The Bench Colorado with your own comments (Sound Off!), your contributions, and your “NO” vote on retaining these unjust justices in 2010!