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Kudos to Hon. Lisa H. Mansfield for her interview of Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven González [“Working Toward a Just Court,” June 2021 Bar News]. After 50-plus years of practice, I still find myself inspired by the contributions and work of incredible individuals such as these two attorneys.
Jerry Coe, Seattle
Leave Policy to Politicians
I read the cover article on Chief Justice González. The chief justice stresses promoting “minority” groups in the court system, as opposed to promoting people according to merit. Group-against-group policies hurt all of us, including minorities, and they violate equal protection constitutional provisions and anti-discrimination statutes.
A bigger issue is that policy is not a judge’s job. A judge’s job is to decide cases in accordance with the laws and cases quickly and fairly and accurately. Precedent helps by giving us a stable view of the law. Judges enforce the will of the people acting through the Legislature: democracy.
Judges also have the job of complying with the constitutions and enforcing them. Federal laws and the Constitution are the supreme law of the land, article VI, § 2; so it is odd that [Chief Justice] González believes the state Supreme Court does not have to enforce federal immigration law. I noticed that the interviewer and Chief Justice González don’t discuss defending the Constitution until the end of the interview, when the chief justice merely encouraged lawyers to be active in the bar association and defend more than just their own “group”! The bar association as a political agency has no corner on constitutional wisdom.
Judges wield a great deal of power and some of them wield it badly and on others it must be a heavy burden. They are human and individual like all of us. The artwork in the article makes [Chief] Justice González look saintly, which I believe is inappropriate for any judge.
Roger Ley, Portland, OR
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