An update on a lawsuit over Associate Justice Courtney Goodson’s effort to keep dark money ads criticizing her off the air. It’s another fine mess.
In the primary, Goodson sued broadcast outlets in Northwest and Central Arkansas to stop advertising by a dark money group that rehashed old criticism of her for receiving gifts from her future husband and other issues. The ads were allowed to run in Northwest Arkansas by Judge Mackie Pierce, but Circuit Judge Chris Piazza blocked them in Central Arkansas, finding them misleading. (I found Piazza’s ruling an affront to the 1st Amendment, but I have no standing in the case, of course.)
The issue remains relevant because Goodson is in a runoff in November with David Sterling.
The company that owns KTHV in Little Rock has appealed Piazza’s ruling and here a strange case gets stranger.
In a process that was never made clear, the appeal was assigned to the Court of Appeals, not the state Supreme Court, the best place to decide this constitutional question.
KTHV wants the case transferred to the Supreme Court. That motion is pending.
Of course, Goodson herself can’t consider that motion. She has recused from the case. So have Chief Justice Dan Kemp and Justices Rhonda Wood and Robin Wynne. So far, it would appear Justices Shawn Womack, Jo Hart and Karen Baker are prepared to rule on a motion affecting their colleague. But no hurry, The request for the motion to transfer has been pulled from consideration until Gov. Asa Hutchinson appoints special justices to hear the motion.
UPDATE: Womack filed a recusal notice this afternoon.
Meanwhile, the election draws near. Will dark money ads surface in Northwest Arkansas, but not on Little Rock outlets? CLARIFICATION: Piazza’s injunction has expired so the ads may be freely run anywhere in Arkansas for the time being.
Several points in the court’s strategic plan, including appearances and public communication, perhaps could be applied to this slowly grinding case.
NOTED: The outfit smearing Goodson with dark money-fueled attacks is the Judicial Crisis Network. That’s the dark money bunch spending millions to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sterling, who’s essentially running as a Republican for the nonpartisan job, is a committed adherent to their corporate agenda. Which is not to say that Goodson is a liberal.