November 3, 2006 A. D.
Contact: Martin Cothran
Are all indiscretions in judicial races treated equally, asks state family group?
LEXINGTON, KY —The state family group that successfully sued to overturn restrictions on the campaign statements of judicial candidates is asking whether a state committee set up to oversee the conduct of judicial candidates is treating all the candidates equally. Specifically, the Family Trust Foundation of Kentucky is asking why the Kentucky Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee had criticized some judicial candidates for making statements betraying conservative beliefs while candidates in other judicial races, who have reportedly stated their more liberal views, had been ignored.
“According to one liberal activist group,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation, “judicial candidates answered a questionnaire committing themselves on gay and lesbian issues, yet, as far we know, nothing has ever been said by the Judicial Conduct Committee.
“It just seems to us that if candidates for the bench are going to be called on the carpet for committing themselves on issues they might be ruling on, it needs to be done even-handedly.”
Cothran pointed to the fact that the Kentucky Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee had criticized Court of Appeals Judge Rick Johnson, who is running for the state Supreme Court in the 1st District against Judge Bill Cunningham. Johnson had indicated his support for traditional marriage and the death penalty and his opposition to abortion on demand and gun control. Yet several other candidates for judicial office have received endorsements from C*FAIR, the political action committee of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, on the basis of answers C*FAIR has said indicate they are “favorable to the lesbigaytrans community”.
The C*FAIR questionnaire asks candidates about their positions on several specific court cases having to do with abortion and gay rights, as well as about their views on whether sexual orientation should be included in discrimination laws. C*FAIR indicates on its website that it makes its endorsements based on the candidates’ answers. Based on their answers to these questions, C*FAIR has endorsed Justice William McAnulty for Kentucky Supreme Court, as well as Joan L. Byer, Joseph W. “Joe” O’Reilley, Donna Delahanty, Rebecca Swope Atkins, and Eleanor M. Garber for Family Court. It also endorsed Joan A. “Toni” Stringer for District Court.
“If Judge Johnson was wrong in indicating that he is conservative on social issues, then why doesn’t the Kentucky Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee think it is wrong when candidates express their liberal views on the same subjects?” asked Cothran.
“We understand the importance of making sure judges remain impartial. But we also think those who have placed themselves in a position to monitor judicial races should themselves be impartial.”