Media Week in Review: Clear The Bench Colorado, judicial merit selection/retention, & the Colorado Supreme Court in the news
Scouring the ‘net for news – so you don’t have to…
Wrapping up the previous week’s news coverage, the Greeley Gazette published a thoughtful and informative article (“Organization Calls for Non-Retention of Three Colorado Justices“, Friday 10 September 2010) discussing how the Colorado Supreme Court’s Mullarkey Majority (incumbent justices Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, and Nancy Rice – the “Three Colorado Justices” seeking another 10-year term on the November ballot – plus outgoing Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who is resigning rather than be held accountable by Colorado voters)
circumvented the Colorado Constitution on several occasions and should not be retained.
The article describes the key cases in which the Colorado Supreme Court ruled contrary to the clear letter of the Colorado Constitution and violated the rights of Colorado Citizens over the last decade (which is the current term of the incumbent justices appearing on the November ballot).
The Colorado Statesman also published an article Friday (“Ritter picks Marquez for state Supreme Court“) that highlighted concerns about how Marquez’ background might influence her rulings as a supreme court justice:
Many of the positions taken by Marquez on constitutional issues raise concerns about how she might rule from the Colorado Supreme Court bench, Arnold said.
“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,” Arnold said.
A Denver Post commentary published in the days immediately following Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey’s announcement of her intent to resign (“Mullarkey’s Troubling Legacy“, Denver Post opinion 5 June 2010) made similar points, but unfortunately neglected to mention that Mullarkey didn’t perpetrate these constitutional crimes on her own, but was aided and abetted in these misdeeds by three accomplices who are appearing on the ballot this November).
Instead, the Denver Post editorial board chose to commemorate 9/11 by calling a military veteran a “skunk” for daring to express concerns (based on a career background of advocacy and a lack of judicial experience) about Governor Ritter’s pick for Mullarkey’s replacement while failing to mention her (Marquez) role in these cases.
Clear The Bench Colorado started off the week last Sunday evening (9/12) with an in-studio appearance on Backbone Radio to discuss the Colorado Supreme Court, Colorado’s “merit selection & retention” system of nominating and evaluating judges, and Governor Ritter’s recently announced pick to replace outgoing Chief Justice Mullarkey, who is resigning rather than be held accountable by Colorado voters. Producer Josh Sharf also had fun with bumper clips parodying the previous day’s (9/11) Denver Post editorial calling Clear The Bench Colorado Director (and decorated military veteran) Matt Arnold a “skunk” (in what was either a childish cheap shot or “epic fail” attempt at humor):
“Yet there always has to be a skunk at the garden party, and this time the role of Pepe Le Pew was played by Matt Arnold of Clear the Bench Colorado, a group that wants voters to oust all of the justices who are up for retention this year.”
Backbone Radio host Ross Kaminsky had also blogged on the subject of Governor Ritter’s pick politicizing the judicial system on Saturday as well.
A week full of public speaking appearances started off strong when Clear The Bench Colorado Director Matt Arnold kicked off the week as the lead-off speaker at the “We ARE The People” rally at the Denver Capitol on Monday. Matt received some of the most thunderous applause of the day (a late-arriving attendee said that it was loud and clear for several blocks) as he reminded the crowd about the serial transgressions of the Colorado Supreme Court’s “Mullarkey Majority” against the Colorado Constitution (leading to the “Mill Levy Tax Freeze” property tax increase, the “Dirty Dozen” tax increases and of course the Colorado Car Tax (er, “vehicle registration fee”) increase) and our opportunity to remove the remaining three ‘unjust justices’ at the ballot box in November. Curiously, despite the fact that the rally was just up the street from the Denver Post building (and well within auditory range), the Post published nary a word about the rally and the challenge to the Colorado Supreme Court incumbents (apparently $1.6 Million a year is a lot of hush money). The Denver Daily News ran the story on their front page (along with a nice pic) the next day (“Liberty Groups Seek Unity“):
The speech was covered by State Bill Colorado (“Broomfield 9/12 Rally Taking Place At Colo. Capitol“):
Prominent at the rally are members of Clear The Bench Colorado, a political group hoping to win voter non-retention of three Supreme Court justices in the November election.
but not a peep from the Post (Colorado’s “newspaper of record”).
The big news (and time sink) for Clear The Bench Colorado came midweek with the “clash in the courtroom” on Wednesday: CEW Round Two. “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) had their day in court (again) attacking the right of Clear The Bench Colorado to oppose the incumbent Colorado Supreme Court ‘unjust justices’ appearing on the November ballot. Although the judge did not immediately grant our motion to dismiss the attack, CEW’s case later came completely unraveled when the State Elections Director (from the office of the Colorado Secretary of State) stated unequivocally that it was the considered opinion of the Secretary of State’s office – following several internal policy meetings and much discussion – that Clear The Bench Colorado is properly categorized as an “Issue Committee” (which CEW is challenging). Further, he stated that it was an almost unanimous opinion shared up to and including the highest levels. He further stated that although the office does not provide legal advice, it “provides guidance all the time” – and that people are reasonably expected to rely on the guidance issued (in whatever form – verbal, written, publicized, or otherwise) by the Secretary of State’s office.
One could have heard a pin drop in the courtroom after those statements – CEW was flat on the mat.
Law Week Colorado covered the early part of the hearing (before the Secretary of State office’s bombshell), providing an overview and background on the case (“Clear The Bench Colorado Hearing Going On Today“), which was also picked up by the Huffington Post (the HuffPo has been tracking Clear The Bench Colorado with a unique “tag” for about a year now). “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) attempted (desperately) to put their own spin on the hearing later (“Ethics Watch’s Fight Against Big Money In Judicial Elections Goes To Court“) – which is completely laughable, given the “big money” funding CEW, the “big money” funding the “Grueskin group” opposing Clear The Bench Colorado, the “big money” behind the “education” campaign by a coalition of legal-establishment special-interest groups propping up incumbent judges and justices, the “big money” (YOUR taxpayer dollars at work, by the way) funding the whitewash “evaluations” perpetrated by the “judicial performance evaluation commissions” (recommending a “retain” vote EVERY time – 100% – for supreme court justices in the decades-long history of the commissions), etc. etc. The “Big Money” is already in judicial politics – just all on the side of the incumbents. (Stay tuned for more on that topic…)
Later that evening, at a Liberty On The Rocks gathering featuring Denver Post Editorial Board member Chuck Plunkett, friends of Clear The Bench Colorado (I was unable to attend in person) presented him with an autographed picture of Pepe Le Pew (suitable for framing). Chuck took it in good humor:
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Oh, so calling a veteran a “skunk” on 9/11 was a formatting issue…
Still awaiting the Denver Post Editorial Board invitation to discuss the Colorado Supreme Court retention elections (the MOST important issue on this year’s ballot) that they’ve offered to every other statewide race or ballot question…
Meanwhile, across the country, the issue of judicial retention elections is gaining serious attention. The National Law Journal ran two pieces in the space of a week (first, a September 6th guest commentary, “Is justice for sale?” and a September 13th report “Battlegrounds” – the latter unfortunately restricted to subscribers only), both mentioning Clear The Bench Colorado. From the former article:
Bread-and-butter economic issues are also fueling attacks on judges. A group called Clear the Bench Colorado is attacking four justices it accuses of using underhanded tactics to ratify higher taxes.
The latter article also characterized Clear The Bench Colorado as an “anti-tax group” despite an extensive interview and follow-up message describing the entire range of constitutional transgressions perpetrated by the court:
In Colorado, an anti-tax group has started a campaign called “Clear the Bench” in an effort to defeat incumbent justices.
Characterizing critiques of judicial performance as “attacks on judges” and narrowing the basis for the critiques as “anti-tax” fits the narrative perpetrated by the legal establishment, but not the facts. Citizens are becoming increasingly fed up with politicized courts refusing to uphold their constitutional rights and the rule of law – and are demanding accountability across the country.
Seeing their dominance of the courts threatened, the “progressive” legal establishment is conducting a media “blitz” to convince voters that they should not exercise their right to hold judges (and, especially, state supreme court justices) accountable by the only means available: the ballot box. The New York Times recently editorialized (“Fair Courts At Risk“, NYT 9/9/2010) against electoral accountability for judges; the Huffington Post chimed in a few days later (13 Sep 2010) with commentary advancing a similar agenda (“Elected Justice“). Both articles (and similar pieces) parroted talking points released by the George-Soros funded “Justice At Stake Campaign” (another big-money group which is attempting to erode public accountability for the judicial branch nationwide).
The legal establishment and the political ruling class don’t want you to get informed; they prefer to keep you in the dark, or failing that, convince you NOT to 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, and 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 contributions – and vote “NO” on giving these unjust justices another 10-year term!