Favorite

Justice denied by Arkansas Supreme Court delay 

click to enlarge Arkansas Supreme Court
  • Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court waited until 5:10 p.m. Friday to dump a three-sentence document that brought an ignominious end to its ignoble handling of the lawsuit that challenged the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage.

More than 13 months after it first put its hands on the case through a hurry-up stay orchestrated by Justice Karen Baker of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's marriage equality ruling, the Arkansas Supreme Court still had not decided the case. And it never will. The U.S. Supreme Court's historic 5-4 ruling for a right to same-sex marriage made the Arkansas case moot, said the terse unsigned announcement.

Still to be decided is an ethics complaint against the Arkansas Supreme Court for its delay, a procedural morass that two justices, Chief Justice Jim Hannah and Justice Paul Danielson, have said was nothing but a pretext for delay.

Don't be confused by the bureaucratic fog. Confidential sources provided an outline of the case that you can read fully in this week's Arkansas Times. It's simple:

Justices Karen Baker, Jo Hart, Courtney Goodson and, after she joined the court Jan. 1, Rhonda Wood stymied completion of this case. They also were prepared to vote against marriage equality rather than anger voters, who added the ban to the Arkansas Constitution in 2004, or Republican politicians. Cowardly strategic delay may not be an ethics violation, but it is no less despicable.

The case could have been decided. The Arkansas Supreme Court, then including Donald Corbin, who retired Jan. 1, and Special Justice Robert McCorkindale, sitting for the recused Cliff Hoofman, voted Oct. 9 not to delay the case and further voted Oct. 23 to EXPEDITE it. Nov. 20, the justices voted 5-2 to uphold Piazza. The opinion was never issued. Justice Hart demanded time to write a dissent. Goodson, who voted in the majority, wouldn't release her opinion until Hart filed a dissent. She never did.

Compare this with federal District Judge Kristine Baker, who also heard oral arguments Nov. 20. Five days later, she issued a 45-page opinion striking down the ban.

Come Jan. 1, Corbin was succeeded by Robin Wynne and Hoofman's seat was taken by Wood, a Republican partisan with strong ties to anti-marriage Republican politicians. She demanded that McCorkindale get off the case. That debate ate up weeks, ultimately decided in early May by a court packed by Republican special justices picked by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Seven weeks without a decision followed.

Goodson, my sources say, voted with Piazza in May but with Hart, Baker and Wood against Piazza in the final unreleased opinion. She appears to have connived from the beginning to control — and delay — an opinion until either the U.S. Supreme Court took her off the hook or the working majority changed.

Goodson, abetted by her husband, trial lawyer John Goodson, whose political activities include loose talk about court work and financial involvement in court races, plans to run for chief justice in 2016 on Jim Hannah's expected retirement. Perhaps then she'll talk about how she was for marriage equality before she was against it.

The future is bleak — a Supreme Court controlled by popular prejudice and corporate masters such as nursing home magnate Michael Morton, a heavy contributor to justices now running the court.

Should Goodson rise to chief, the Republican governor will be able to appoint someone cut from the same cloth to fill Goodson's associate justice seat for two years. Also: Circuit Judge Shawn Womack, a former Republican senator, might rise without opposition to retiring Justice Danielson's seat. He's on record favoring RE-criminalizing homosexual acts and preventing gay couples from adopting children.

With Republican legislators encouraging resistance — on spurious religious grounds — to compliance with the rule of law, it's hard to be optimistic about where the future Arkansas Supreme Court might come down should it be faced with a modern-day Orval Faubus who wishes to beat a Bible rather than uphold a constitutional duty to issue marriage licenses.

That is, if it ever ruled at all. `

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • Architecture lecture: Sheila Kennedy on "soft" design

    Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.
  • Petition calls for Jason Rapert Sewage Tanks in Conway

    A tribute is proposed for Conway's state senator Jason Rapert: naming the city's sewage sludge tanks for him. Petitioners see a similarity.
  • Health agency socked with big verdict, Sen. Hutchinson faulted for legal work

    A former mental health agency director has won a default judgment worth $358,000 over a claim for unpaid retirement pay and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is apparently to blame for failure to respond to pleadings in the case.
  • Religious right group calls for compromise on damage lawsuit amendment

    The Family Council, the religious right political lobby, has issued a statement urging its followers to oppose the so-called tort reform amendment to limit attorney fees and awards in damage lawsuits.
  • Constituents go Cotton pickin' at Springdale town hall

    Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Stand up for Little Rock

    If Little Rock deteriorates because of substandard schools, there will be blame aplenty to share. But some elected leaders deserve special mention.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas voters know what they want

    With a surprisingly strong vote, 53 percent of Arkansas's voters said last Nov. 8 that they wanted to bring medical marijuana to the state.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Future is female

    • When I try to be pithy I probably come across like an asshole, but there…

    • on February 25, 2017
  • Re: Hating the media

    • Yup, as Jefferson said "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper"…

    • on February 25, 2017
  • Re: Trump and Russia

    • By the by - two days after Trump talked about Sweden having problems - there…

    • on February 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation