Clear The Bench Colorado Director Matt Arnold discusses role of Colorado Supreme Court in redistricting, potential replacements for outgoing Chief Justice Mullarkey on Mike Rosen Show
Clear The Bench Colorado Director Matt Arnold called in to the Mike Rosen Show Wednesday following up on an interview with nationally syndicated analyst Michael Barone regarding Congressional redistricting and state-level reapportionment of legislative districts.
Michael Barone spoke broadly on the issue of redistricting nationwide – and was almost certainly unaware of the peculiarities of how the redistricting and reapportionment processes in Colorado are dominated by the Colorado Supreme Court (which ultimately has the final say on both).
After explaining how the reapportionment (state legislative districting) process works in Colorado, and how Congressional redistricting was hijacked by the Colorado Supreme Court following the 2000 census (and how the groundwork has been laid to do so again), the discussion shifted to Tuesday afternoon’s announcement of the three finalists to replace outgoing Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who announced in June that she would retire rather than be held accountable by Colorado voters this November. After providing a brief overview of the judicial nomination process, the discussion concluded with some remarks on the potential replacements for the Colorado Supreme Court.
(Listen to the podcast here – the CTBC segment runs from about the 30 to the 38 minute marks)
An interesting addendum was provided by a follow-up caller, identifying herself as a former Supreme Court Nominating Commissioner named “Mary” from Longmont.
Her stated intent was to “rebut” the CTBC Director – but missed the mark by a bit (although she did provide some interesting insight into the nominating/selection process and commissioner mindset).
She stated that the nominating commission process was, quote, “the most nonpartisan activity I ever engaged in” (although, in response to Mike Rosen’s follow up question “Was it non-ideological?” she conceded “not exactly.”)
She stated that the commission was “more interested in not getting the ‘Black Robe Syndrome’, where judges think they’re above God almighty and can do whatever they want.” (Rosen nailed it with his follow-up: “You mean like the liberal majority currently on the state Supreme Court?” Couldn’t have said it better myself…)
After some more discussions along those lines, the caller veered away from reality to advance a ‘strawman’ criticism of Clear The Bench Colorado:
Caller: “My plea… is that we don’t change the system… where judges… don’t have to raise thousands of dollars to run…”
Rosen responds: “The system is not perfect – so the question is: would any changes make it better or worse?”
Caller: “If there can be a degree of public scrutiny… I wouldn’t be opposed to it.” [Ed: gracious of her to concede the point]
Rosen: “We have a retention [vote] option, but unfortunately that [has been] more theoretical than practical.”
Caller: “Maybe that needs to be beefed up…. maybe you need to do a better job of getting the opinions of existing judges before they go to the ballot” [Ed: that is the point of Clear The Bench Colorado – informed citizens making informed choices on judicial officeholders, and holding them accountable]
Rosen: “The ‘Blue Book‘ just before an election, when this committee gives us the appraisal of judges… that is the most platitudinous, worthless appraisal ever… and rarely do they ever not recommend retention, so I find that of no value whatsoever.”
The caller then concluded by bemoaning that “the voting thing is so skewed with dollars…” I think that people like my father would turn over in his grave if he knew there was some movement to have elected judges.”
(Listen to the podcast here – the call starts off the 11AM hour, and continues to the 11 minute mark)
Let me be clear on one point: that concluding statement was either ignorant, or a deliberate lie. Either way, it is a gross mischaracterization.
Clear The Bench Colorado has not advocated for a return to contested elections for judges. The entire point is to increase voter awareness of our rights within the system, provide some much-needed information (doing a “better job of getting the opinions of existing judges before they go to the ballot”, for example) – since, as Rosen correctly points out, the Blue Book summation of the Performance Review Commissions “evaluations” is “platitudinous, worthless… and of no value whatsoever” in providing substantive information with which voters can make an informed decision.
An additional, hypocritical, gross mischaracterization advanced by the caller is the role of money in the judicial retention evaluation and election process. Yes, the “voting thing” is skewed with dollars – in favor of retaining incumbents. Not only are large amounts of taxpayer dollars spent on the whitewash judicial performance review “evaluations” (and subsequent printing & distribution in the “Blue Book”) which have ALWAYS (100%!) recommended retention for Colorado Supreme Court justices, but legal establishment special-interest groups have spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on incumbent-protection campaigns (including the “Grueskin Group” formed specifically to counter the judicial-accountability message of Clear The Bench Colorado and protect incumbents judging their cases). Yet despite the obvious conflict of interest posed by attorneys spending to protect incumbent judges who will rule on cases in which the same attorneys take part, they are allowed to spend freely – since, by maintaining the status quo, they need only point to the judicial review commission’s “retain” recommendations and claim a purely “educational” mission free of direct advocacy. These groups are also not subject to campaign finance law reporting and accountability, in contrast to grassroots organizations like Clear The Bench Colorado – allowing them to work outside of public scrutiny. Corrupting influence? Perish the thought!
Become an informed voter; conduct your own evaluation of the performance of these justices, based on how (and whether) they follow the Constitution and uphold the rule of law. As an informed citizen, Yes, you can exercise your right to vote “NO” on the four (er, now three) ‘unjust justices’ of the Mullarkey Majority (Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice; soon 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 homes and business from seizure by abuse of eminent domain, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of rule by activist, agenda-driven ‘justices.’ Support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off!) and your contributions – and vote “NO” on retaining these unjust justices in the November elections!