posted by December 11 at 14:20 PMon
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