September 11, 1986
LAW FACULTY MEMBERS’ STATEMENT
REGARDING RETENTION ELECTION FOR THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT
We are law professors troubled by the attacks upon Chief Justice Rose Bird and Associate Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin.
It is dangerous and destructive to inject partisan politics into the judicial retention election. Fair and well-reasoned decisions can emerge only when justices are independent from politics, when they cast their votes on the basis of their understanding of the applicable law and not their responsiveness to the demands of special interest groups and politicians.
The recent attacks upon judicial independence imperil not only the three justices singled out by name, but the Supreme Court as an institution. For example, Governor Deukmejian has recently announced his active opposition to three of the six justices standing for reconfirmation solely for their politically unpopular stands in specific areas rather than for any lack of qualification on their part. Although the Governor has sought to focus attention on these justices’ death penalty decisions, the tenor of his opposition suggests a desire to “pack the court” with hand-picked successors.
Similarly, numerous special interest groups have distorted the record of the court and the facts of particular cases. These groups wish to replace the present justices with ones more subservient to their interests.
These attacks are a major assault on the principle of a judiciary committed to decision according to law.
We intend to vote for all six justices in the confirmation election, irrespective of our agreement or disagreement with their decisions on particular issues. We urge all Californians to join us.
(UCLA Law School faculty signers)
Jose A. Bracamonte
Charles M. Firestone
Isabelle R. Gunning
Edgar A. Jones, Jr.
Kenneth L. Karst
Christine A. Littleton
Daniel H. Lowenstein
Henry W. McGee
Albert J. Moore
Patrick 0. Patterson
J. Mark Ramseyer
David W. Reimann