More response to Friday’s “Demand accountability from judges, too” Denver Post article from Clear The Bench Colorado
The discussion continues…
More readers (including a vehement critic of citizens exercising their 1st Amendment rights to evaluate judicial officeholders) have weighed in on our article (published on Friday, July 2nd under the “My Turn” header as “Demand accountability from judges, too”) in response to a June 11th article defending incumbent judges and attacking critiques of the court (“Criticism of retiring Judge (sic) Mullarkey unfair”).
Clear The Bench Colorado previously excerpted some of the most interesting comments (since Post readership is declining, you may have missed it) and invite additional comment here or on the Post’s website. Also, the full version of the original article (the Post’s version was heavily edited for space) is available for comparison (Accountability, Transparency apply to the Colorado Supreme Court, too).
Below is our response to the several comments submitted thus far on the Denver Post website:
Judging from the overwhelming tenor of responses posted as comments to this article, a majority of Colorado citizens who are paying attention to the issue of judicial performance reviews and retention elections in this state “get it” – our courts (particularly the incumbent justices on the Colorado Supreme Court) are out of control, and need to be held accountable – to their oath to support the Constitution, uphold the rule of law, and defend (not eviscerate) the constitutional rights of Colorado citizens.
The tone of the responses and comments posted – by my count, commenters (some with multiple postings) include a dozen favorable, one opposed, one neutral-ish, and one paid hatchetman (c’mon, “Paul W.” – come clean on who hires you to troll the site and post comments – at least have the courage to post your actual name and stand behind the attacks) reflect what I’ve encountered over the last several months speaking to various civic-minded groups around the state: there’s a HUGE unrequited thirst for substantive information about the performance of our unelected (and heretofore largely unaccountable) judiciary, the critically important 3rd branch of our system of government.
Some of the comments (particularly the attacks on Clear The Bench Colorado and its supporters, but also a few of the supportive comments) have gotten off-track, so I’ll attempt to recap the issues and address some major points.
First, to clarify: Clear The Bench Colorado is not advocating for any radical changes to our current system of judicial selection and periodic retention elections at this time. Despite serious concerns expressed from a number of perspectives that the current system (the “Missouri Plan”) undermines accountability (and there is some merit to that argument), it is our hope that with minor reforms and (most importantly) active civic participation in the process – including information and critiques from a variety of sources and perspectives – we can defend and improve upon our existing institutions.
“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” – Abraham Lincoln
Second, the CTBC article specifically counters the view (expressed by Thornton and other defenders of incumbent justices and the status quo) that citizens and independent groups have no right to express an opinion or critique concerning judicial performance. Such a view runs counter to the very idea of the Citizen as sovereign that is the basis of our form of government (and our nation’s philosophical core). Criticizing an alternative perspective as “morally and intellectually flawed” and devolving into ad hominem attacks on the messenger betray the hollowness and lack of substance of the attacker’s message. There’s just no “there” there.
Finally, even the critics – paid attackers and otherwise – have not been able to answer my challenge to provide an example of how the “Blue Book” reports – the Judicial Performance Review Commission narratives – are in any way helpful or informative to voters in deciding how to “judge the judges.” Citizens are advised to either uncritically accept the black-box recommendations by the closed-door, non-transparent, unaccountable, political insider-dominated process that generates the JPRC and “Blue Book” reports, or (essentially) devote their lives sitting in courtrooms and/or poring over every last one of the myriad rulings of the justices in question. (It’s no fun, I can assure you).
The fact remains: our institutions may be worthy of preservation, but the system of judicial performance reviews has consistently failed to provide the substantive evaluations needed to inform the public. Consideration of alternative, independent views – including critiques – is vital to ensuring accountability. Why are CTBC’s critics so threatened by the light of this independent review? Because they know that the citizens of Colorado, when presented with good information, will exercise their right to vote “NO” on the unjust justices of the Mullarkey Court this November.
Clear The Bench, Colorado!
Clear The Bench Colorado very much appreciates the interest and engagement demonstrated by so many of the comments submitted to the Denver Post website, and encourages further discussion – after all, it’s YOUR rights that are at stake. Join the discussion – right here and/or on the Denver Post site.
We The People can (indeed, as citizens, we must) hold our public officials – both elected and appointed – accountable. Be a citizen, not a subject – get informed, then exercise your right to vote “NO” this November on the four (er, three remaining) ‘unjust justices’ of the Colorado Supreme Court’s “Mullarkey Majority”- (Justices Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice – soon to be minus 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 home or business against seizure via eminent domain abuse, your right to be fairly represented in the legislature and Congress, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of suffering under rule by activist, agenda-driven “justices.” Continue to support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off!) and your contributions – and vote “NO” on giving these unjust justices another 10-year term!