AN IMPARTIAL JUDGE? This is from a David Sterling ad in support of his Supreme Court candidacy.


An op-ed in the Washington Post reports
on Republican efforts to shape state courts, specifically mentioning Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida and North Carolina. The authors easily could have added Arkansas.

The seven-member Arkansas Supreme Court has two candidates who, though nominally non-partisan, ran as Republicans. They did heavy campaigning at Republican events. One of them, Rhonda Wood, used Mike Huckabee as a robocaller. Another, Shawn Womack, is a fomrer Republican senator. This year, a Republican political organization, the Republican State Leadership Committee, is spending $1 million to elect David Sterling. His own TV ads boast that he supports the agenda of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Donald Trump.

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Says the Post op-ed:

President Trump may have huffed and puffed about “so-called” judges, but — at least so far — he has been all tweets and no action. Republican politicians at the state level, on the other hand, have had more courage, attempting in multiple states to impose their will on their supreme courts.

This is a dangerous moment for our country. Attacks on judges and courts pose a real and ongoing threat to judicial independence and the rule of law.

Perhaps not if you’re a Republican. Sen. Trent Garner, who’s said Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen should be impeached for participation in a death penalty protest, has raised no question about the judicial impartiality of David Sterling, who is vowing to support the agenda of Asa and Trump. Gubernatorial polices, for sure, often reach the state Supreme Court.

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The op-ed said legislators should stand up for judicial independence to preserve the balance of power intended in constitutions. Don’t hold your breath for the dominant Republican Party to advocate that in Arkansas. Republican Chair Doyle Webb has already engaged in court-packing, having recommended proper candidates a few years ago in races for circuit, appeals and Supreme Court.  One of his favored candidates, Mike Maggio, who also used the GOP campaign tactic, is now in federal prison for taking a bribe in the form of a campaign contribution to reduce a $5.2 million verdict in a nursing home negligence case.