Tuesday’s election sweep for Republicans has implications far beyond the people who hold the offices they won.
Appointed boards with great influence come to mind. Pollution Control, Education, Public Service Commission, Ethics Commission.
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Also the courts. Arkansas courts, particularly appellate courts, have a rich history of reading political winds in their decisions. The corporate influence that appears in next year’s Arkansas Supreme Court majority is important because it generally dovetails with Republican Party outlook.
Which brings us to a more pressing matter — the pending appeal on same-sex marriage bans in Arkansas. Politically ambitious Supreme Court justices who owe debts to Republican political contributors are not good candidates to exhibit courage in the face of contrary popular sentiment and threats from the even bigger Republican legislative majority, some of whom have already expressed the desire to impeach or remove judges who rule in favor of marriage equality.
In short: Does the Tuesday election sweep by Republicans amount to a negative influence on whether the Supreme Court will uphold Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s invalidation of the ban on same-sex marriage? I think you have to answer yes.
Anecdote: Well-placed sources say John Goodson, the powerful class action lawyer who’s married to a Supreme Court justice, had predicted in several places that the Supreme Court would allow votes to proceed, for example, on the alcohol initiative. It was defeated, but a court shouldn’t fear blowback when people are given the vote, which the court repeatedly did this year. In the marriage case, the people HAVE voted. Against it.
The Arkansas Supreme Court hears arguments Nov. 20. The same day, a federal district judge in Little Rock will hear arguments in a similar federal lawsuit that won’t be affected by whatever the Arkansas court decides.