Sunday, July 27, 2003

Republican delegates challenge governor's authority to name interim judges

The Washington Post reports here and the AP reports here that Republicans in the House of Delegates are challenging the authority of Governor Mark Warner to appoint judges to fill vacancies until the next session of the General Assembly - including, particularly, a circuit court judgeship in Alexandria.

The Post article quotes Del. Terry Kilgore as saying, "If we don't step up and exercise our rights, we'll be sending the message across the state that if you were appointed by a Democrat, just wait until we are out of town and retire and we won't do anything."

The story seems a bit misleading - it is no news that judges appointed on an interim basis have to sweat out the decisions made in the next term of the General Assembly. It is my recollection that Justice Kinser, for example, was initially appointed by Governor Allen, and then she had to pass muster in the next legislative session. There is nothing controversial about legislators declaring that they will exercise their constitutional prerogatives.

It was pleasure to meet Judge Roger Gregory of the Fourth Circuit when he came to Abingdon and spoke sometime last year. Judge Gregory was nominated originally by President Clinton, and then renominated by President Bush, and so became one of the few trouble-free nominations to the federal court of appeals positions since President Bush took office. Judge Gregory is an outstanding individual, the kind of lawyer who sets an example for others (like myself) to admire and try to follow.

I don't know the man in Alexandria who is being considered for the judgeship there. There are many lawyers in Alexandria. I would hope that the Republicans in the General Assembly are as able to consider the possibility, as the White House apparently did, that the endorsement of the leader of the opposition does not disqualify an well-qualified candidate for a judgeship.

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