Tuesday, August 12, 2008

VG: Supreme Court

I'm not writing about the Olympics, not because I have anything against China or against athletes, but because I've never been a fan of the Summer Olympics. Somehow, growing up, I missed the boat on getting fired up about the summer games, a deficiency that neither Mark Spitz or Kathy Rigby could overcome. The Winter Olympics, on the other hand, I'm a fan. Go figure.

But we move onto the court cases this time out, which are quieter than they have been previously. I can only surmise that the BIAW has bought enough access with previous campaigns and is just coasting on this one this time out (And indeed, they are investing in Democrats this cycle, just enough to cover the spread). So the court positions are a bit sleepy this time out.

Two resources are good for the court positions, one is Voting for Judges.Org which is an aggregator of endorsements and ratings from various legal bodies about the judges in question, as well as the Municipal League which provides ratings for judges and local elected offices. Both are worth checking out.

So, the Supremes. These are non-partisan positions, but that doesn't mean that the people running for them are not partisan, just that the position is. So you have to do a little more digging to understand what is going on. And often, lacking a party affiliation, just a name will sway people one way or another.

And just to make things interesting, if one of these guys gets more than 50% of the vote, then they get the election and don't have to run in the general. So FEWER people can make the decision.

Position Four we have incumbent Charles Johnson. We have a lot of Johnsons on the bench, and justice Johnson has been there longer than most. He is conservative and has gotten great marks from the various lawyer groups and the Municipal League. His candidate statement reflects this, being little more than a brief biography and a list of everyone who supports him. Its a pretty good argument, right there.

Jim Beecher, the leading challenger, flips the logic with the argument that after 18 years in office, it is time for a new fresh approach, from "someone with knowledge of present day litigation practices across Washington." Because, you know, being a judge keeps you away from all those lawyers on a daily basis. He still gets a positive rating from the Muni League and the law groups, but not in Johnson's weight class.

Frank Vulliet argues that the Judges are not working hard enough, should be trying MORE cases, and those cases that they do try are too expensive. He wants to re-org the entire system. Mr. Vulliet is currently working on a book with the working title "Taking Stock . . .: What’s Still Right and What’s Gone Wrong in America: What YOU Can Do About It". No, this is not a joke from the Colbert Report. Oddly enough, he has been suspended from practicing law for not keeping up with continuing legal education requirements, and when mentioned at all, is judged "Not Qualified" by the various groups.

Over at Position Three, We have incumbent Mary Fairhurst, who has racked up a ton of previous experience, a lot of "Exceptionally Well Qualified" ratings, and the endorsements of the major media, with the exception of the Seattle Times. I can only assume that she said something discouraging about Estate Taxes to earn the wrath of the Blethen family which owns the Times.

The Times is alone in preferring Michael Bond, who gets OK ratings from the various groups, and is running on the platform that Fairhurst rules too often in favor of government. The purpose of the judicial branch, per Bond, is to protect the people from the government of which it is part. Not a bad idea, but he doesn't have the oomph to back it up.

And finally, over in Position Seven, Debra Stevens is running unopposed, so I'm not going to say anything about her. So there, nyah!

More later