“Clear the Bench” Blows the Dog Whistle

We’ve talked a couple of times about the right-wing “Clear the Bench” campaign against originally four, and now three sitting Colorado Supreme Court justices up for retention this year. We’ll start by recognizing that they’re going to take issue, as they always have, with our characterization of their campaign as a “right-wing” operation. “Clear the Bench” doesn’t like being pigeonholed as expressly partisan one way or the other.

The thing is, as their latest rambling statement on the appointment of Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez to the Court yesterday shows, they’re about as wedgy and partisan as it gets:

Governor Bill Ritter appears to have proved the cynics right (those who argued that he would base his selection on politics, rather than judicial experience) by picking Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez as the next Colorado Supreme Court justice (replacing outgoing Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who announced in June that she would resign rather than be held accountable by voters this November), bypassing what appeared to be two highly experienced, eminently qualified, and non-partisan judges (El Paso District Judge David Prince and Colorado Appeals Court Judge Robert Russel).

Clear The Bench Colorado was among the few who held out hope that the outgoing governor would set aside politics and do the right thing in basing his decision on qualifications and judicial experience. His apparent decision to knuckle under to special interests instead of siding with Colorado Citizens and promoting judges who will uphold the rule of law is disappointing…

Although it may be possible to overcome a lifetime habit of political activism [Pols emphasis] and advocacy to become a fair, impartial judge who upholds the rule of law, it requires a significant mental shift – probably best reinforced by experience gained by being a judge on a lower court, rather than going right to the top.

Unfortunately, Ritter’s selection will only serve to further erode public confidence in a Colorado Supreme Court already damaged by a decade of highly-politicized, anti-constitutional rulings, since Marquez lacks any judicial experience and seems to have built her entire career on policy & political activism. [Pols emphasis]

To be as fair as possible here, “Clear the Bench” doesn’t actually use the word “gay” anywhere in this release–they complain about her work arguing cases CTB doesn’t like on behalf of the state, and support for her appointment from the Hispanic Bar Association. But nobody conversant in modern politics is going to miss the code-word reference to a “lifetime habit of political activism,” unless it’s a reference to her also being born Hispanic–and that’s even worse, isn’t it?

“Clear the Bench” also ignored the glowing recommendation Marquez received from none other than Republican Attorney General John Suthers–it was our understanding that CTB likes Suthers, and his support for Marquez makes an awful mess of their little narrative.

But just beneath the surface, you can see it’s a bit ugly in addition to messy.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. OuiserBoudreaux says:

    Your second paragraph calls Marquez an “Assistant Attorney General,” when she is a Deputy (a higher position).

    Also, at one point, you call her “Mendoza”!??

    • Colorado Pols says:

      All typos corrected, thanks.

      • When I was at ASU West 1998-2000, I had the pleasure to study under a huge forward movement in American Studies. Works such as Vicki L. Ruiz’s book, “Out of the Shadows,” and a wealth of others were bringing to light in academic discourse issues of the Chicana/Latina lesbian.

        I know her struggles and fight, will bring depth and dimension to the bench. No disrespect, as I know the marginalization of anyone, any group, regardless is not something our society should tolerate.

        I wish her the best of luck and support her.

  2. bullshit! says:

    They really really want to scream it but they know they can’t. It must be tough to have views you know others will find repellent if they know you have them.

  3. CastleMan says:

    when Monica Marquez is nominated to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court someday.

    She is an extraordinarily talented, intelligent and empathetic person. If President Obama is re-elected in 2012, and if there is a vacancy on the nation’s highest court during his second term, I expect that he will at least seriously consider Ms. Marquez.

    By then, she will have sat on Colorado’s highest court for at least two-plus years. It’s likely that she will have demonstrated the abilities, and built a track record, to justify a promotion.

    She wouldn’t be the first woman state court judge to move to the U.S. Supreme Court, either. I’m sure the state’s conservative hates of our own supreme court will remember the name O’Connor.

    Sandra Day O’Connor had been a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals for less than two years, as I recall, when President Reagan nominated her as the country’s first woman justice in summer of 1981.

    Of course, she’d also spent a few years on the state trial bench, too.

    In any case, though, I expect that this will only be the first time that the name “Monica Marquez” hits the news as a woman of genuine accomplishment and merit.

  4. DaftPunk says:

    Clear The Bench was so powerful?

    Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey…announced in June that she would resign rather than be held accountable by voters this November

    That’s what she said?

  5. Laughing Boy says:

    I read the whole post, and until I got to the bottom and read Pols analysis, I had no idea she was gay.  Is she gay?  Who cares?

    I’m all for CTB and against anyone Ritter might appoint, simply because our State SC is beyond liberal.  I could care less about sexual orientation, and I think it’s an incredible stretch to infer anti-gay bias from what you’ve posted.

    • davebarnes says:

      Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    • Arvadonian says:

      this quite differently than are the folks at CTB.  They clearly state a preference for either of the two straight, white candidates that Ritter was also considering while you have stated your opposition to anyone that Ritter might have appointed.

      The only differentiating factor between Marquez and the other two candidates was their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and judicial experience….and the only factort that sets Marquez apart from any of the current Supremes is her sexual orientation.  Given these facts, it seems clear that CTBs issue with her is her orientation—particularly when they cite “special interests” as Ritter’s motivating factor with this appointment.

      • Laughing Boy says:

        Do you really think CTB would release a favorable report on anyone Ritter appoints?

        I’m a pro-gay marriage R, and with all due respect, Arv, I just don’t see this as anti-gay bias at all.

        To be honest, I thought Pols was going to try to cast it as anti-latina bias until I got to their money line.

        • Arvadonian says:

          “…bypassing what appeared to be two highly experienced, eminently qualified, and non-partisan judges (El Paso District Judge David Prince and Colorado Appeals Court Judge Robert Russel).”

          Given that description, I have to assume that they would have said something nice about them…unless they are hypocritical and only saying nice things about them in the context of ripping a gay latina who got the job.

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