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Tuesday, August 8, 2006

More Name Games in the Supreme Court Race

Posted by on August 8 at 9:50 AM

Some bad news for incumbent SC judge Susan Owens. (Owens, a dissenter on last month’s DOMA ruling, is a whip smart liberal who’s up for reelection this year.)

Anyway, the Secretary of State’s office decided that on the ballot in her race—which includes candidates: attorney Richard Smith, administrative law judge Norman Ericson, and two guys named Johnson—the Johnsons will be given “descriptors” so that people can distinguish between them. The “descriptors” will say: Stephen Johnson, State Senator, attorney … and Michael Johnson, attorney.

(Stephen Johnson is a hyper conservative state senator from the Auburn/Covington area.)

Anyway, the problem for Owens—and for Smith and Ericson—is: while the Johnsons are described attorneys and state senators, the implication is that other candidates are unqualified nobodies.

The Sec. of State has the authority to use “descriptors” to distinguish candidates with similar names. But this solution seems detrimental to Owens. Conspiracy theory 101 tells me that Rob McKenna’s Attorney General’s office, which guided the Secretary of State’s office on how to deal with this, recommended a solution that would hurt liberal Owens’s chances. McKenna is a hotly partisan GOPer.

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Do you have any particular opinion from Justice Owens in mind that would warrant the "whip smart" sobriquet?

This is just dumb - can't people read the voters guide? Is it really that difficult to be an informed voter?

"Descriptors" that are also implicit qualifications for the race in question do seem inappropriate, and quite possibly illegal, even if they were there for everyone.

As far as Willis' questions, "No" and "No", respectively.

Isn't there any indication that she's the incumbent?

Why not just use their FIRST NAMES as "Descriptors"?

This action seems highly dubious.

And they wonder why people don't trust the government.

see, I thought most people running for judge were attorneys.

wonder who we'll endorse tonight for the 43rd dems endorsement at the UW HUB at 7 pm. I haven't even seen her questionnaire yet, and I'm on the committee that reads all that boring stuff ahead of time ...

Will, are you kidding? Who will the 43rd endorse? Please. Her only real opponent (based on money) is Republican Steve Johnson. She was endorsed by the State Dems. She's the incumbent. She voted against DOMA and for gay marriage. None of the others have any experience nor have they articulated any good reason for running. What is wrong with you?

Wow, are people THAT dumb, that they would vote out an incumbent for a generic Johnson because the Johnson had a title next to his/her name and the incumbent didn't?

I think such a case is more an indictment of the ignorance of voters than it is an indictment of the inherent corruption of the GOP.

"She's the incumbent."

A damn good reason to vote for somebody else. The more time a sup. ct. justice sits there in the rarified air of the Temple of Justice being called your honor and watching toadies genuflect to them the further they drift from the struggles of life most of us endure. Plus, fresh blood on the bench would shake up the status quo in Olympia, and that needs doing.

Those of us who attend legislative district meetings and actually hear the judicial candidates speak, are a tiny minority. Those of us who read the voter's pamphlet, most especially the nonpartisan candidates' statements, are also a minority.

The vast majority of people who even bother to vote either skip the nonpartisan races altogether, or just do them by guess-or-by-golly - they pick the name they like the sound of, they vote for a name that sounds vaguely familiar, they vote for only women, etc. (women do have a very slight edge in judicial races because many women, lacking other data, do exactly that).

Most people don't post on political blogs, don't read political blogs, don't know the BIAW from DOMA, and could not give a tin shit who wins a judicial race. Now, I may find that personally appalling, but it's also the truth.

Oh, and Sari, if you'd ever spoken to Justice Owens, you'd know why your statement cracked me up. If there is anyone to whom "rarefied air" and being "toadied to" is less applicable than Susan Owens, I've yet to meet them. She is most definitely not the self-important type.

I agree that there are some incumbents who have been too long in the seat (McDermott comes to mind) but a little experience (Owens is running for her 2nd term) in a supreme court justice seems like a good thing to me.

Agreed too that it would seem that Sari has never been in the Temple of Justice...

I don't know, how did she vote on the DOMA case?

Because, to be frank, they're not going to get a free ride this year and are going to be pulled from the slate.

Will in Seattle,

The first line of my post says how Owens voted on the DOMA case. She voted to get rid of DOMA.

And I second Geni's comment on Owens. Owens aint pretentious at all.

What free ride? You're blowing smoke. Have you done ANY research on her opponents? Have you read any of the info above?

There are a number of unfavorable inferences one can draw from how J. S.Owens did not write an opinion in the DOMA case. It could be incompetence. She might not be able to describe her jurisprudential bent towards whether procreative capacity is a rational reason to exclude some from marriage. Or she doesn’t care. With dozens of drafts flying back and forth over the past year and a half it seems odd she lacked the conviction to add to the jurisprudence in this case. With the election coming up perhaps political considerations warranted against even weighing in on positions her colleagues took.

These opinions were certainly going to be more widely read and discussed than almost any others; she could have helped set the legal landscape going forward. But she came up short.

She must not be persuasive, because she couldn’t convert even one of the five to her side. Yes, that would create a new majority but she didn’t try; she didn’t write an opinion which is how a judge attempts to convince other judges on a panel (by sending them drafts with good legal exegesis). Maybe no one else on the Court respects her.

So the candidate is a lame jurist. And the candidacy is weak – her donors have short arms (can’t reach pockets). FairPAC isn’t raking it in by any means. So she’s toast, right?

I have no doubt that Rob McKenna played a role in this. For I-933, the Farm Bureau/Home Builders' property rights initiative, McKenna wrote a ballot description that matched the proponents top messages from their polling. For I-937, the Clean Energy Initiative, McKenna wrote a wonky, confusing ballot description. McKenna plays dirty like no other politician in this state.

pokergames pokergames

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