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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


posted by on December 11 at 14:20 PM

Gov. Christine Gregoire appointed an Eastern Washington judge, Spokane Court of Appeals Judge Debra Stephens, to Washington’s Supreme Court last week.

Gregoire touted Stephens’s Eastern Washington status, arguing that the nine-member Court needed more geographic diversity. (There hasn’t been an Eastern Washington judge on the Court since 2000.)

In a statement hyping the appointment, Gregoire said: “It is very important that the Washington State Supreme Court have the diversity of viewpoint that a justice from Eastern Washington brings to the bench.”

But Gregoire also told the AP that another main reason she picked Stephens is because the Spokane judge is a moderate and a consensus builder. “The court has been sharply divided, with numerous 5-4 decisions, Gregoire noted,” the AP reported.

So which is it? Does Gregoire want diversity? Or does Gregoire want consensus?

If Gregoire wants fewer 5-4 decsions, maybe she should use the power of her office and to appoint some liberals who will nudge the court left for some 6-3s.

To me Gregoire’s “diversity” seems like reverse double back flip code for her kiss up to conservatives. It’s a sort of cute FU to liberals; Gregoire’s trading in the progressive meaning of diversity— minority representation by gays and people of color—for a reactionary “diversity” that actually means status quo consensus.

Again: In one breath Gregoire says she wants less split decisions and more diversity. Those two things don’t jibe. And for Gregoire’s liberal base in Western Washington, neither do her appeasement appointments.

From the AP report:

The governor said she asked Stephens to offer the court her skills as a consensus-builder. The court has been sharply divided, with numerous 5-4 decisions, Gregoire noted.

She said she didn’t ask Stephens about her politics. The post is nonpartisan, but some jurists come to the bench with extensive political backgrounds, including serving in the Legislature. Stephens said her father, civic leader Jim Williams, ran for the Legislature as a Republican and has ties to the building industry, but that she has no political affiliation herself.

She said it’s possible that two clashing interest groups, the trial lawyers and the homebuilders, might end up endorsing her. Property-rights activists “have nothing to fear from me,” she said

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You really need to quit with the slamming Eastern WA. As I've commented before in Slog, I've met WAY more conservatives in Western WA than I ever have in Eastern WA. It's purely a stereotype. Get over it already.


Posted by Hal | December 11, 2007 2:22 PM

Diversity is not necessarily what Josh Feit says it is.

Consensus is not necessarily what Josh Feit says it is.

"Progressive" is not necessarily what Josh Feit says it is.

Gregoire's base is not necessarily what Josh Feit says it is.

"Appeasement" is not necessarily what Josh Feit says it is.

Most important, Justice Stephens is not necessarily who Josh Feit appears to think she is.

The Governor is putting "One Washington" into action, whether Josh Feit likes it or not. She is trolling for votes in Eastern Washington, as she had damned well better be doing.

Josh Feit is, as usual, just throwing shit up against the wall. He is not going to vote for Dino Rossi, and he, the Governor, and I all know it.

Posted by ivan | December 11, 2007 2:31 PM

Well said #2. Josh Feit is hardly one of the greatest political minds of our time, nor is the stranger brimming with real journalism.
It's a "what's on" rag, with the occasional "yes to monorail! no to monorail! yes to monorail!".

Posted by paul | December 11, 2007 2:42 PM

Well, I think the Stranger has by far the best news and political reporting in Seattle.

Posted by jamier | December 11, 2007 2:59 PM

When the idea of someone from Eastern Washington (diverse!) and a liberal (consensus!) is too far out for Josh to wrap his mind around, it means you should probably keep searching for your Political Reporter of the Year.

Posted by elenchos | December 11, 2007 3:03 PM

Stephens had one client for years - WSTLA. For those of you unfamiliar with that group, it is the advocacy arm of the personal injury trial lawyers. Her legal career amounts to drafting/arguing appellate briefs to further the interests of ambulance chasers. Trial lawyers pay big money to Dems, and Gregoire in particular. Stephens is not conservative - she's a single interest rep.

Posted by $$$$$$ | December 11, 2007 3:11 PM

Diversity the way ultra liberal seattle poseur wannabes flog everyone else with a differing opinion SUCKS!

Posted by Gustavo | December 11, 2007 3:15 PM

jamier @ 4:

The level and the substance of your comments suggest that the Stranger is probably your *only* source of news and political reporting.

Posted by ivan | December 11, 2007 3:44 PM

its the same story: gregoire panders to the right to secure her re-election.

what's the left going to do, vote for joe swaja?

Posted by max solomon | December 11, 2007 3:46 PM

don't like the governor, vote for someone else. I will. What has she done - really - that you consider worthy? Oh, right, she recently signed a pact with SDOT, WSDOT and KC DOT to get everyone all in line for whatever we're going to do with the Viaduct. Bold, brazen, - nah, dumb and clueless, actually.

Posted by chas Redmond | December 11, 2007 4:04 PM

Josh, Gregoire didn't have the opportunity to "appoint some liberals who will nudge the court left for some 6-3s." She was replacing the very liberal Bobbe Bridge, so appointing another liberal would only serve to maintain things as they are.

Posted by Ed the Head | December 11, 2007 4:29 PM

@11 - No shit. What's Gregoire supposed to do, try to pack the WA S Ct a la FDR during the New Deal?

Mission accomplished for Gregoire: appoint a slightly-to-moderately left S Ct justice while getting tons of press over the fact that the appointee is from eastern Washington.

Posted by Ed the Horse | December 11, 2007 4:41 PM

It's not a bad move. She picks up a few percentage points in Eastern Washington, and it doesn't really cost her anything in Western Washington, because what, we're gonna vote GOP?

Posted by Gitai | December 11, 2007 9:23 PM

Re .."To me Gregoire’s “diversity” seems like reverse double back flip code for her kiss up to conservatives. It’s a sort of cute FU to liberals.."-
No... it's "foot in mouth" Christine saying "diversity of viewpoint" when she means "diversity of Experience" (of culture, primarily- if you observe a cultural diff between those on opp sides of the "Cascade Curtain").
There ARE "people in the Middle" on both sides of the mountains... and it's unlikely that jurisprudence only nests on the wet side... ^..^

Posted by herbert browne | December 11, 2007 10:25 PM

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