Tag Archives: Vermont Supreme Court

About that vacancy on the state supreme court

Last week, longtime Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley announced he will retire at the end of his term, next March. There followed the predictable encomiums to his service and legal mind and his staunch liberalism, notably expressed in the 1999 civil unions decision.

You know the first thing that crossed my mind?

Who gets to fill the vacancy: Peter Shumlin or his successor?

Yeah, I immediately went to the politics. Vermont Political Observer through and through. The stakes aren’t nearly as high as for the U.S. Supreme Court, but there are definitely stakes. Presumably Phil Scott and Sue Minter would have different qualifications in mind if they got to name one of the Court’s five Justices.

I don’t know for sure; no one in the media has seen fit to inquire about the candidates’ judicial philosophy and their views of Vermont jurisprudence.

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Son of Racism Is Bustin’ Out All Over

You think the deadly combo platter of two seemingly needless police killings of black men plus the Dallas killing of police officers by a black man has kinda lanced a boil on America’s psyche? Because everywhere there’s talk of racism — and the denial of same by white folks who are way too defensive about the whole thing.

Last week, I wrote about a bunch of racially-tinged incidents tainting the pure and blessed landscape of Vermont, and now we’ve got some more to share.

Coming up, signs that the authorities in Bennington Still Don’t Get It, even in the face of a potentially expensive lawsuit… and further evidence of cowardice in Vermont’s second city.

But first, the Burlington Free Press reports that some locals have their knickers in a knot because Ferrisburgh’s Rokeby Museum had the audacity to put up some “Black Lives Matter” placards.

The Rokeby is a small museum dedicated, in part, to Vermont’s role in the Underground Railroad. The Robinson family, who lived on the property, were Quaker abolitionists who sheltered runaway slaves. The signs were hung in May to honor “the legacy of the Robinsons as social justice activists.”

In the aftermath of the Dallas shootings, it’s gotten a little tense down Rokeby way.

A young man who came in to ask about the signs, became angry, thinking they supported violence against police and white people — himself included.

One person called and another posted a Facebook message on the museum’s page demanding the signs be taken down… By the end of the day on Friday there were at least five response that left staff feeling vulnerable.

(Note: yes, it’s incorrectly spelled “response” in the Free Press story. No proofreaders need apply.)

Funny, isn’t it, how a single incident of black-on-white violence can shatter the automatic assumption of safety that’s part of White Privilege in America?

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Drug-inspired racism: it’s not just a cartoon

Oh, here comes Maine Governor Paul LePage, the gloriously unfiltered hambone, with his typically offensive comedy stylings. This time, he’s explaining the causes of Maine’s drug epidemic:

“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty… these types of guys… they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”

Hahaha, what a clown. Can’t believe the voters of Maine have chosen that schmuck as their chief executive — not once, but twice!

Good thing we don’t have any of that ignorant nonsense in Vermont, right?

Right?

Well, actually, it reminded me of something I read a few months ago in Seven Days.

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Jim Douglas: It gets worse

As I reported a couple days ago in this space, Jim Douglas’ new memoir includes a passage that accuses Governor Shumlin of public corruption — of giving a seat on the Vermont Supreme Court to Beth Robinson, a political ally, as a reward to her and to an important constituency. Here it is again:

“The Senate leader, who succeeded me in the governorship, was a strong proponent of gay marriage. Since he was nominated by a scant 200 votes in the Democratic primary, their support may well have provided the margin of victory. He later reciprocated by appointing one of the leading lobbyists of the movement to the Vermont Supreme Court.”

The key word there is “reciprocated.” Douglas is saying that there was a quid pro quo — one of the state’s highest offices was bartered away as a political reward.

Well, on September 11, Douglas was a guest on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show. When Johnson asked him about the passage, Douglas doubled down — claiming that Robinson is unqualified:

With all due respect to the Justice, I think it’s hard for most Vermonters to believe that she would have risen to the top of the pack but for her leadership on that issue.

“With all due respect,” my ass. Jim Douglas is saying that Beth Robinson had no business being chosen to the high court, and that this is so obviously true that “most Vermonters” would have a hard time believing she was nominated on merit.

Johnson, taken aback by this rather bold assertion, asked if Douglas really believed she was appointed because of her work on the marriage equality court case.

She obviously became well known because of that, and, um… [long pause] who knows?

A wonderful piece of passive-aggressive political attack. Johnson asked “What do you base that on?” Douglas offered no evidence; instead he quickly changed the subject.

His comments about Robinson were baseless and mean-spirited. They’re of a piece with his allegation that Shumlin made a corrupt deal to put her on the high court.

Which, I say again, should have been the top headline news out of Douglas’ memoir. I remain stunned that, with the exception of Mark Johnson, no one in the media has mentioned it at all.