Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Rossi and the Judges

Posted by Warren Peterson on October 7, 2008

In the Vice Presidential debate, the candidates were asked if they could think of a single issue where they changed a long held view. Joe Biden answered that when he “went on the Judiciary Committee as a young lawyer, I was of the view and trained in the view that the only thing that mattered was whether or not a nominee appointed, suggested by the president had a judicial temperament, had not committed a crime of moral turpitude, and was – had been a good student.

And it didn’t take me long – it was hard to change, but it didn’t take me long to realize that the ideology of that judge makes a big difference.” – in other words, no conservatives on the bench.

The result of such thinking is now reflected in the Rossi-Gregoire contest. Two former judges, Faith Ireland and Robert Utter, are participating in a lawsuit claiming that Dino Rossi improperly solicited campaign contributions from the Building Industry Association of Washington prior to his announcing his candidacy for governor. That the suit is blatantly political is without question. There is no chance it will be resolved before November 4. Having two former judges out front on the issue gives legitimacy to the charges true or not. It serves the purpose of sowing doubt in the minds of the undecided just as the frivolous suit brought by the Democratic Party over Rossi’s use of GOP rather than Republican as his party identification.

The public saw through that one but may be swayed by the latest claim because two judges are involved. Ireland and Utter are both know as liberals but inserting themselves in a last minute “October surprise” accusation calls into question their impartiality as judges. Should the Bar Association review their past decisions to see if political bias rather than the law was the basis of their rulings? Being former judges should not bar them from speaking out on issues but it should give then pause before agreeing to participate in a patently political lawsuit.


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