Jack Roberts — a chance for change

The Oregon Supreme Court race has broken a campaign fundraising record as three candidates strive to fill a vacancy. Nearly a million dollars has been raised with Jack Roberts leading the pack. The importance of the Supreme Court vacancy cannot be overstated.

Justice Wallace Carson (who before he went to the bench was a Republican state senator from Salem) announced last year that he wouldn’t run for reelection this year but that he also wouldn’t follow the typical pattern of resigning early so that the governor to appoint his replacement. Instead, Justice Carson is letting the people elect his replacement. Jack Roberts would easily be the most fiscally conservative member of the Oregon Supreme Court if elected.

Roberts been endorsed by Crime Victims United, Taxpayers Association of Oregon, and by Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis. Compare those endorsements to the other Supreme Court contenders Virginia Linder and Gene Hallman. Linder is endorsed by Judge Merton James and Judge Lipscomb the dynamic duo that revoked both property rights Measures 7 & 37 (and revoked these measures using the most contorted legal reasoning imaginable). Candidate Hallman is former president of the Oregon Trail Lawyers Association — enough said.

Roberts would be the only person on the court with a business law background (the others are either from the state attorney general’s office or were plaintiff and union lawyers). Jack has also been a vocal defender of the initiative system and has a strong reputation for fairness. For example, in 2004 he was chosen by both supporters and opponents of Measure 37 to be the neutral party on the committee preparing the voter’s pamphlet explanation for that initiative. Having a justice who actually understands the initiative process from personal experience would be a huge advancement.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Williams is right — it is dramatically important to the state that we elect Jack Roberts to the Supreme Court.

    Roberts is such an interesting case — frankly, he should be our governor now. He ran such a poor campaign in the 2002 GOP primary. His “vote for me because I’m the one who can win in November” didn’t move enough votes, and he got squeezed on the right by Mannix (even though on most issues he is at least as conservative) and on the left by Saxton.

    Had Roberts signed the no tax pledge in 2002, he’d be governor now. Funny that no candidate signed the pledge in 2002, but all three did in 2006. It was most important for Saxton, and a key strategy to make himself more palatable to conservatives. Had Roberts signed the pledge in 2002 he could have triangulated his opponents — seizing both the conservative ground on taxes and the moderate ground on abortion.

    His campaign saw things differently. And wrongly.

    After we elect him to the SC, perhaps Roberts will stage a statewide comeback. He could still be our governor. And a great governor for the state.

  • Roberts would never leave the SC to become Governor. Only an idiot would do that… um…

    Also, by 2010 he will be about 60. We need to elect youthful Governors who can then go on to be U.S. Senators, Vice Presidents, and the like.

    But you are right that Jack should have won in 2002. Saxton ruined it for Oregon, just like he is ruining it for Oregon today.

    And it is odd that all the Saxton backers today are echoing the same “I have the best chance of winning the general” meme that Roberts used in 2002.

    But this post is about the Supreme Court, not the Governor’s race.

    Gene Hallman likes to use foreign law to “find” an excuse to apply punitive damages — damages that unfairly punish a tortfeasor without the substantive due process protections of the criminal law, while increasing the tax burden on the plaintiff — yet reward the trial lawyer paid on a contingent percentage basis.

    Gene Hallman also said he likes being an appellate lawyer because it lets him “CHANGE THE LAW.” His own words, documented on my blog (Google the phrase “most dangerous man in Oregon politics).

    Virginia Linder has just become a non-factor in the race. When Justice Riggs announced he will retire early, allowing the Governor to name a replacement, that ensured that Kulongoski will choose a woman. No one needs to vote for Linder, whose entire campaign has been based on her gender, in order to put a woman on the court. She will finish a distant third now — but will still end up on the court by appointment.

    Roberts: the right PERSON for the job.

  • Doug

    I don’t think so at all. Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Roberts has not practiced law in over a decade, and was just re-instated to the bar just three months ago. What does he even know about the law? He sure the hell doesn’t practice it. Jason, I guess you figure he will be letting the Republican Party of Oregon and the far right wackos in this state guide his decisions so it’s thumbs up. No way. Look, Roberts is an extreme partisan politician who would bring his own political agenda to the Court. He sure won’t be bringing an independent mind and knowledge of the constitution.

  • Actually, Doug, it is clear that you “don’t know Jack.”

    Has Jack been a trial lawyer during the last ten years? No. But being a trial lawyer isn’t the only way to be proficient at law. And, at the appellate level, it is largely irrelevant. Trial court judges need courtroon experience so they can make snap judgments on motions, rule on evidence, etc. Appellate judges aren’t trial judges. They need to make decisions that define the law. That takes a different skill set.

    Jack Roberts has clearly demonstrated to me a thorough understanding of how the law actually works. On a number of occasions, I have turned to him for information and advice about Oregon law. His ability to rapidly respond, with factual and accurate information, with an actual answer to a complex question (the sort that “practicing” lawyers charge you many billable hours for), truly amazes me. And keep in mind, I have brilliant law professors to make direct comparisons to: I am not just some lay person who can be dazzled by a few important sounding citations.

    I have interviewed Jack at length about important areas of the law, and he has impressed me with his knowledge. He can tell me every important recent Supreme Court decision, and what it means to the average Oregonian (as opposed to lawyers–too many appellate judges ).

    Sure, Jack wasn’t chasing ambulances over the last decade, like some candidates, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been active in the legal world. As Labor Secretary, he was constantly working in the field of administrative law. He is an expert on labor law. As County Commissioner, he dealt with more land-use law than the average lawyer will ever encounter. And let’s not overlook his LL.M. in taxation and his tax practice. Who else on the court today has so much knowledge and experience in matters of tax law, corporate law, and business law?

    Jack is clearly highly qualified, equally qualified as Virginia Linder (who I respect as a judge, but who has made bad decisions in positioning herself as “the woman” candidate instead of the “qualified” candidate) and clearly MORE qualified than Hallman.

    Finally, you are critical of Jack for being a “partisan” and a “Republican.” Well… considering virtually every judge and justice in Oregon is first appointed by a sitting governor, and since we have had nothing but liberal democrats in Mahonia Hall for 20 years, wouldn’t a Republican bring some political balance to the courts? And while the position is “non partisan” in that parties don’t submit their own nominees, judicial positions are nonetheless POLITICAL positions. This is especially true at the appellate levels, where justices answer questions of LAW instead of presiding over trials of fact. In other words, making judgments that directly affect the way government works. The judicial branch is clearly a political branch, and there is nothing wrong at all with wanting a justice who agrees with your political position (whatever it may be).

    If you argue that Jack Roberts is too Republican, then what you are really saying is that he isn’t democrat enough, isn’t it? Doesn’t that make YOU partisan?

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