This past Thursday, I had the privilege of attending a fairly small event in which Justice Steve Gonzalez also attended. In fact, by happenstance of his slightly delayed entrance, we ended sitting close enough to each other to have a conversation.
My impressions were these. Steve Gonzalez is an extremely thoughtful, polite, and reasonable man. For anyone that knows much about me and my practice, the former adjective (i.e. reasonable) is the most important. Reasonableness is the fulcrum from which decisions need to be made in all judicial matters.
More pointedly, a dogmatic approach – be it a departure from the middle towards either political end of the spectrum – is not something which the Judiciary should be involved in. As the last say on conflicts, the Judiciary absolutely must stay above politics.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case with the United States Supreme Court for several decades and as a result instead of having firm precedent upon which our citizenry can pin their legal understandings, the opportunity to place a new Justice on the US Supreme Court allows an opportunity to alter the political landscape.
Back here in Washington State, it is true that Democrat Governor Christine Gregoire appointed Steve Gonzalez to fill a vacancy. BUT, Justice Gonzalez must have his abilities confirmed in an election. That should not be hard for him to do.
Justice Steve Gonzalez is endorsed byboth Gubernatorial Candidates Jay Inslee (D) and Rob McKenna (R); all of his colleagues on the Washington Supreme Court; 250 Judges across the state; and others spanning the full political spectrum.
So, why isn’t Justice Gonzalez’ victory assured?
The answer is that Gonzalez is running to retain his position as Justice against an individual who has a first person candidate statement in which he seems to represent himself as a lone wolf.
Further, this opponent believes that it is going to be appropriate to “challenge prior case law that [in his opinion] misapplies fundamental constitutional principals and rights.”
Folks, that is a bad idea!
If the Courts get it wrong, it is the job of the Legislature to change the law to make it right. This then is confirmed by the Governor. Unfortunately, Justice Gonzalez’ opponent from Kitsap County doesn’t appear to understand this most basic democratic mechanism for the principled opperation of our system of government.
[That’s how we went about altering the law of Adverse Possession over the last year and a half.]
Of critical importance, the August 7, 2012 Election is not a primary with respect to retention of Steve Gonzalez’ seat.
He needs your vote!
On Justice Gonzalez behalf and as someone who seeks to advance reasonableness in both our legal and political systems, I humbly ask you to cast your State Supreme Court Justice Position No. 8 vote on or before August 7th for Justice Steve Gonzalez. Thank You!