Governor Ritter succumbs to special interests: Monica Marquez picked to be the next Colorado Supreme Court justice
Well, at least they won’t have to change the monogrammed towels…
Governor Bill Ritter appears to have proved the cynics right (those who argued that he would base his selection on politics, rather than judicial experience) by picking Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez as the next Colorado Supreme Court justice (replacing outgoing Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who announced in June that she would resign rather than be held accountable by voters this November), bypassing what appeared to be two highly experienced, eminently qualified, and non-partisan judges (El Paso District Judge David Prince and Colorado Appeals Court Judge Robert Russel).
Clear The Bench Colorado was among the few who held out hope that the outgoing governor would set aside politics and do the right thing in basing his decision on qualifications and judicial experience. His apparent decision to knuckle under to special interests instead of siding with Colorado Citizens and promoting judges who will uphold the rule of law is disappointing.
Ritter’s pick of Marquez comes on the heels of an intensive lobbying campaign by the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association (Ms. Marquez is on the board of that group) both following and during the nomination process (apparently a bloc in the Supreme Court Nominating Commission advocated strongly for Ms. Marquez on the basis of politics, not qualifications). This is not to say that Ms. Marquez is unqualified; she is undoubtedly a fine attorney. However, there is a significant difference in temperament and approach in being an attorney (which involves taking sides, often aggressively, for a client) and being a good judge (sworn to fairly and impartially apply the law, as written – NOT taking sides).
Although it may be possible to overcome a lifetime habit of political activism and advocacy to become a fair, impartial judge who upholds the rule of law, it requires a significant mental shift – probably best reinforced by experience gained by being a judge on a lower court, rather than going right to the top.
Unfortunately, Ritter’s selection will only serve to further erode public confidence in a Colorado Supreme Court already damaged by a decade of highly-politicized, anti-constitutional rulings, since Marquez lacks any judicial experience and seems to have built her entire career on policy & political activism.
Many of her positions on constitutional issues raise concerns about how she might rule from the bench. Marquez advocated in favor of the 2003 judicial takeover of legislative redistricting authority in the Salazar v. Davidson redistricting case, argued that “fees” are not taxes in the Barber v. Ritter case (which led to the 2009 Colorado Car Tax – er, vehicle registration “fee” – increases), and has sought to restrict the 1st Amendment rights of citizens seeking to speak out on ballot issues in recent and ongoing cases. She is also the lead attorney in yet another attempt to impose an unconstitutional tax increase on Colorado Citizens.
Of course, to avoid running afoul of judicial ethics violations, she would have to recuse herself from ruling on any of these cases or related issues in which she has been directly involved when they come up before the Colorado Supreme Court – which emphasizes the importance of the remaining justices.
In any case, Colorado Citizens will render their verdict on prospective Justice Marquez when she must receive voter approval to remain in office after 2 years (the first term of any judicial appointment is the so-called “probationary” term – so Marquez will appear on the 2012 ballot).
In the meantime, Colorado voters have the opportunity to render their verdict on the three remaining incumbent Colorado Supreme Court justices on this year’s ballot who are seeking an additional TEN year term in office.
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 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.” Support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off!) and contributions – and exercise your right to vote “NO” on giving these unjust justices another 10-year term!