Why did the NRA endorse Goodson? | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why did the NRA endorse Goodson?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 3:33 PM

click to enlarge MAYBE IT WAS THIS PICTURE THAT SEALED THE DEAL: From Goodson social media.
  • MAYBE IT WAS THIS PICTURE THAT SEALED THE DEAL: From Goodson social media.

On Tuesday, Associate state Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, who's running for chief justice, trumpeted her endorsement by the NRA.

As we've noted elsewhere, the NRA says it does not usually endorse judicial candidates.

Endorsements are not given in every race. Our endorsement is not given lightly; it is something that is reserved for those candidates who meet certain criteria and something that must be earned.

Sometimes we receive inquiries concerning judicial races. NRA-PVF generally does not issue endorsements in judicial elections. In the rare circumstances where NRA-PVF makes endorsements in state judicial races, there are many complexities that must be taken into account, including the following:

• Judges, unlike legislators, often do not have voting records. Therefore, in evaluating judicial candidates, NRA-PVF can only make evaluations based upon past legal opinions and public statements involving firearm-related issues;

• Individual states implement different codes of judicial conduct, and have often passed statutes limiting judicial candidates from announcing their views on issues or controversies that may come before the court, and;

• These codes or statutes may prevent judicial candidates from filling out NRA-PVF candidate questionnaires. Even if a candidate could fill out a questionnaire, and then got elected to the bench, the questionnaire answers might later force the judge to recuse him- or herself from a firearm-related case.

We certainly welcome input and information from our members on judicial candidates. It is important to remember, however, that NRA-PVF's involvement in judicial races remains the exception and not the rule 

So I've been trying to figure out why the NRA made Goodson the exception to the rule.

I asked the NRA why it endorsed her. A spokesperson, Catherine Mortensen, sent along this statement:

The NRA’s Political Victory Fund has endorsed Courtney Goodson in her campaign for Chief Justice of the Arkansas State Supreme Court. Our endorsement is based on her strong support of the Second Amendment.

Was Goodson or her opponent, Circuit Judge Dan Kemp, invited to fill out a questionnaire? Were they scored?

There was no questionnaire. We consider her an incumbent and as such our endorsement is based on her record.

Goodson does not have a long legal record. She was elected to the state Court of Appeals in 2008 and the state Supreme Court in 2010. Before that she served as a law clerk for two Appeals Court judges. I can find no noteworthy cases involving the Second Amendment in her record. Several long time court watchers weren't able to point me to anything either. 

I've asked the NRA to point me to a specific decision and whether Goodson sought the NRA's endorsement, but have not gotten a response.

I asked George Shelton, consultant to the Goodson campaign, how the endorsement came about. In a statement, he said, "Regarding any of the numerous endorsements this campaign has received, we would refer you to the organization to discuss their endorsement process for incumbents and other candidates with public records."

I also asked if Goodson's trumpeting of her endorsement meant she would recuse from future cases involving the Second Amendment. Shelton said he knew of no specific cases and couldn't comment on hypothetical ones. 

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