Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Palace Coup

In a stunning editorial, The Waterbury Republican American addresses itself to the palace coup at Connecticut’s Supreme Court:

"The legislature's campaign against former state Supreme Court Chief Justice William 'Tocco' Sullivan is looking more and more like a witch hunt. He has admitted -- to his colleagues, to reporters, to the state Judicial Review Council -- that he withheld the release of a ruling to help Justice Peter Zarella's chances of succeeding him. Justice Sullivan set no precedent; previous chief justices have held up decisions for political reasons. He didn't try to cover up what he did; he even told a colleague, 'I had no evil intent. I would have done it for any one of you.'

"Unresolved is whether he acted within the bounds of judicial discretion. If he did, the complaints against him would be outside the council's jurisdiction and certainly beyond the reach of lawmakers trying to compel him to make the perp walk into an investigative hearing by the Judiciary Committee.

"On constitutional grounds, a Superior Court judge quashed the committee's effort to subpoena him to avoid granting lawmakers extra-constitutional powers that would put the judiciary 'at serious risk of losing its identity as an independent branch of government.' Yet the committee cochairmen and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal continue beating the bushes for a judge who will compel Justice Sullivan to tell the committee what he already has told his colleagues, the council and the public.

"To what end? Well, it's an election year and politicians are eager to show voters they are tough on corruption, even where it doesn't exist. The irony is those who would sit in judgment of Justice Sullivan routinely pass legislation as favors to their colleagues, special interests and campaign contributors. Their sins dwarf those of which Justice Sullivan is accused.

"Whether Justice Sullivan acted unethically is for the judicial review council to decide, and that process will play out in due time. A legislative hearing would serve no purpose, except to let pious politicians spew lofty rhetoric at election time and kick a good man while he's down."

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