I’ve already mentioned that Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s appointments of a couple of blue-ribbon Republicans to hear the jurisdictional question on the same-sex marriage case had at least the appearance of potential conflict.
1. Appointee Betty Dickey endorsed the election of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. It is Rutledge’s motion to have new oral arguments and to replace a special justice with Republican-leaning Rhonda Wood that Dickey must decide.
2. Judge Shawn Womack, who plans his own Supreme Court race in two years and could use the free publicity, has a record of trying to make it illegal for gay people to adopt. That legislation is built on the premise that it should be illegal for gay people to marry.
A reader reminds me of a memorable exchange on Womack’s unsuccessful legislation (succeeded by a successful ballot initiative from the gay-hating Family Council, a law struck down by a better Supreme Court.) It featured Sen. Jim Argue and Womack. From the Democrat-Gazette in 2007, to give you some idea of the merit of a Womack appointment to this specific case:
During a spirited debate, opponents of the bill questioned Womack on how such a ban would be implemented and how much the government would investigate prospective parents’ sexual behavior.
“Are you gay or are you heterosexual?” Argue asked Womack.
“Excuse me?” Womack replied.
Argue repeated the question, and Womack responded that he is “proudly heterosexual.” “Can you prove that to me?” Argue asked. Womack paused and said, “I certainly would, yes.” “How would you go about offering up proof?” Argue asked. “I’m not sure that’s a conversation that we would have in mixed company,” Womack said. Argue told Womack he was trying to point out that adoptive or foster parents shouldn’t be asked to prove their sexuality. Womack said they wouldn’t have to. It would be the state’s burden to prove they’re homosexual if a question arises, he said. “How would the state prove that someone’s homosexual?” Argue asked.
Womack said it could be through testimony or admission or “a number of ways.” He acknowledged it would be difficult to prove if someone were “in the closet.”
Argue said it would also be difficult to prove that unmarried heterosexual adults who live together were involved in a sexual relationship, which is the definition of cohabiting.
“We’re not going to install a camera in the bedroom, are we?” Argue asked.
I’ve asked the governor for comment on the background of these two appointees. His spokesman has not responded.