Monday, February 8, 2016

AP examines the other race for Arkansas Supreme Court

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 11:42 AM

SHAWN WOMACK: Says his hardline stances against LGBT rights won't influence him as a judge.
  • SHAWN WOMACK: Says his hardline stances against LGBT rights won't influence him as a judge.
The AP's Andrew DeMillo had a good summation yesterday of the Arkansas Supreme Court race between Shawn Womack, the Mountain Home circuit judge and former state legislator, and Little Rock attorney Clark Mason.

The Womack / Mason contest thus far has been overshadowed by the race for chief justice, which pits Justice Courtney Goodson against Judge Dan Kemp. Over the weekend, a poll by Talk Business / Hendrix College found that a full 50 percent of voters said they were undecided between Womack and Mason. (With 28 percent, Womack held a plurality over Mason's 22 percent.)

The AP rightfully zeroes in on the most prominent item on Womack's political resume: His sponsorship of legislation in 2007 to prevent same-sex couples from fostering or adopting children in the state of Arkansas.

When he was in the state Senate, Womack introduced legislation in 2007 to ban gays and lesbians from fostering or adopting children, a move that passed the Senate but failed before a House committee. His proposal was in response to the state Supreme Court in 2006 striking down a state regulation banning gays and lesbians from being foster parents. Voters approved a similar restriction in 2008, which the court also struck down.

Womack said his votes as a legislator wouldn't influence him as a judge.

"I hung up that role of policymaker over seven years ago," Womack said. "I don't think you'll find anyone who's been in my court that has ever felt any type of partisan issue was an issue in my court."

Mason, meanwhile, is hoping the anti-establishment mood of the 2016 election might mean voters will prefer a candidate without prior political baggage:

Mason, 56, has practiced for 32 years as an attorney in Little Rock and has never run for public office before. Stopping short of criticizing Womack by name, he cites the fact he's never run for office as a Democrat or Republican.

"Not being a partisan politician, having never run for office, having clearly the most experience and certainly the broadest experience in the race and the fact that I am not beholden to any special interest whatsoever, I have no agenda," Mason said.

The nonpartisan judicial election is March 1, the same date as the primary election for partisan races.

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