Clear the Bench Colorado's Matt Arnold -- the man behind an effort to vote out three current Supreme Court justices for allegedly unconstitutional rulings -- was far less than thrilled by Governor Bill Ritter's appointment of Monica Marquez to the court.
Indeed, he says that if she was on the court now, he might be campaigning to boot her off, too.
"If her record to date were her judicial record, then yes," Arnold says, he would oppose her reelection. "But let's see if she can make the shift from being an advocate to being a judge. I do think it's fair to see what she does on the bench."
Even so, Arnold confesses to being "skeptical. It's difficult to overcome a lifetime of habits of being an activist. Her entire life has been on that path. I think it would have been more logical to see what she'd do on a lower court, instead of rocketing her right to the top."
In Arnold's view, Marquez, who is both Latina and gay, topped two more experienced candidates in part because of backing by the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association. "We should be choosing someone because they'll make a great justice, not because of identity politics," he maintains.
As for her track record, he slams her argument that fees aren't taxes, made in association with a vehicle registration case from last year, and what he sees as other philosophical similarities to the current justices he opposes: Michael Bender, Alex Martinez and Nancy Rice. And he's not reassured by the support given her selection by Attorney General John Suthers, a colleague of Marquez's, yet also someone who earlier this year expressed antipathy about several of the justices Clear the Bench has targeted.
"John Suthers is a lawyer and Monica Marquez is a lawyer," he notes. "They've been working for the office for quite a while, and if anything, it shows that birds of a feather flock together. I don't want to slam Suthers too much, but I think the legal establishment tends to run in a pack, which I think is more in the interest of that group than the citizens. We'll see, though. Obviously, Suthers knows her better than I do, and I hope he's right."
In the meantime, Arnold continues to decry the selection process for Supreme Court justices, which he considers to be secretive and suspect, and to tout the results of a recent survey showing widespread discontent with Bender, Martinez and Rice.
The Clear the Bench voter survey "showed a 78 percent 'no' vote on Martinez and Rice, and a 79 percent 'no' vote on Bender, and it was across all groups," Arnold says. "It was Republicans, it was Democrats, it was unaffiliated voters, it was men, it was women, it was people from Denver, Fort Collins,Grand Junction, Pueblo. Overwhelmingly across every group, voters of Colorado reject justices who do not uphold the constitution."
He thinks such people would also be aghast at the way judge recommendations are handled in Colorado. He maintains that "100 percent of the time, they've recommended to retain Colorado Supreme Court justices, 100 percent of the time they've recommended to retain judges on the Court of Appeals, and 99 percent of the time, they've recommended to retain all others. It's a joke. It's a whitewash and a rubber stamp."
He's happy, then, that Marquez is being appointed to fill just a two-year term, as opposed to the usual ten. That way, "Colorado citizens won't have to wait so long to evaluate her," he says.
For him, the evaluation has already begun.
Look below to see releases about the Marquez selection from the Governor's office, the Attorney General's office, and Clear the Bench.
Governor's office release:
GOV. RITTER APPOINTS NEW JUSTICE TO COLORADO SUPREME COURT
Deputy Attorney General Monica Marie Marquez, graduate of Grand Junction High School
Gov. Bill Ritter today appointed Monica Marie Marquez, a 41-year-old deputy attorney general, to the Colorado Supreme Court. The appointment to the seven-member court is effective Nov. 30, when Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey retires after 23 years on the bench.
"Today I am pleased to select Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez to serve on Colorado's highest court," Gov. Ritter said. "Monica is an analytical and independent thinker. She has a wealth of personal and professional experiences, and a deep reverence for the role our legal system plays in the everyday lives of Coloradans, and in the inter-relationship between our courts and public policy. She respects the rule of law, is conscientious and will bring an unbiased and just perspective to the court and all the cases that it hears.
"Naming a new Supreme Court justice is a tremendous responsibility and privilege," the Governor said. "I had three exemplary choices and a difficult decision to make. While Chief Justice Mullarkey leaves behind an irreplaceable legacy, I am confident Monica Marquez will serve the people of Colorado with distinction, honor and integrity."
Marquez leads the State Services Section of the Attorney General's Office, which represents nine of the 16 executive branch agencies in Colorado. She specializes in appellate litigation and has represented the state, in both state and federal appellate courts, in cases involving fiscal policy, education, healthcare, elections, redistricting and campaign finance.
"I am both humbled and deeply honored to be appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court," Marquez said. "I look forward to serving the State of Colorado in this new capacity, and I promise to bring an exceptional work ethic, a collaborative spirit, an open mind, and a reverence for the rule of law."
Prior to joining the Attorney General's Office in 2002, she was an associate at the law firm Holme Roberts & Owen and a judicial clerk for two federal court judges.
After graduating from Grand Junction High School in 1987, Marquez earned her bachelor's degree from Stanford University in 1991 and her law degree in 1997 from Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Before attending law school, Marquez taught and worked with inner-city youth in Camden, N.J., and Philadelphia with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and St. Carthage Catholic School.
She currently serves on the boards of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and the Colorado GLBT Bar Association.
The current salary for a Supreme Court justice is $139,660 a year. Marquez will serve for a provisional term of two years. If retained by voters, she will then serve a 10-year term.
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Clear the Bench release:
Clear The Bench Colorado is disappointed that Governor Ritter appears to have succumbed to special interest pressure, rather than relying solely on qualifications and judicial experience, in selecting Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez as the next Colorado Supreme Court justice (r eplacing outgoing Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who announced in June that she would resign rather than be held accountable by voters this November).
Unfortunately, Governor Ritter's selection of Ms. Marquez will only serve to further erode public confidence in a Colorado Supreme Court already damaged by a decade of highly-politicized, anti-constitutional rulings, since she lacks any judicial experience and seems to have built her entire career on policy & political activism.
Many of the positions taken by Ms. Marquez on constitutional issues raise concerns about how she might rule from the Colorado Supreme Court bench. Marquez advocated in favor of the 2003 judicial takeover of legislative redistricting authority in the Salazar v. Davidson redistricting case, argued that "fees" are not taxes in the Barber v. Ritter case (which led to the 2009 Colorado Car Tax -- er, vehicle registration "fee" -- increases), and has sought to restrict the 1st Amendment rights of citizens seeking to speak out on ballot issues in recent and ongoing cases. She is also the lead attorney in yet another attempt to impose an unconstitutional tax increase on Colorado Citizens.
We hope that we are proven wrong in our concerns and Ms. Marquez will overcome the habits of a lifetime career of political activism and advocacy to become a fair, impartial judge who upholds the rule of law; in any case, the ultimate decision on her judicial performance will be rendered by Colorado voters in two years when she stands for retention following her initial, "probationary" term of office.
In the meantime, Colorado voters have the opportunity to render their verdict on the three remaining incumbent Colorado Supreme Court justices on this year's ballot who are seeking an additional TEN year term in office.
Attorney General John Suthers's statement about Marquez:
Attorney General lauds governor's selection of Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez to fill Colorado Supreme Court vacancy
DENVER -- Colorado Attorney General John Suthers praised Gov. Bill Ritter's selection of Deputy Attorney General Monica M. Marquez to fill a vacancy on the Colorado Supreme Court occasioned by the resignation of Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey.
"Gov. Ritter was faced with a difficult decision between three highly qualified candidates for the state's highest court. In selecting Deputy Attorney General Marquez, the governor has made an excellent appointment to the Colorado Supreme Court," Suthers said. "Monica is one of the brightest attorneys I have worked with in my long career in public service. Her clear, concise writing and sharp legal mind will make her an outstanding addition to the Colorado Supreme Court."