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Friday, July 10, 1998
OMYA OFFICIAL: DUMP 3 JUSTICES
By Peter Crabtree
Bennington: Saying the Vermont Supreme Court had
"run amok," businessman John M. Mitchell of OMYA, Inc.
called Thursday for the General Assembly to deny
reappointment to three justices responsible for the
decision that led to Act 60.
At a dinner supported by the Ethan Allen
Institute, Mitchell described the Brigham decision as
"the mother of all idiotic cases" and said Associate
Justices John Dooley, Denise Johnson and James Morse
should be dumped from the court.
"They are dumb or they are lying," Mitchell said
when critiquing the Supreme Court's performance. "Not
a pleasant choice for us citizens to have to make, is
The president of Pluess-Staufer Industries,
Mitchell recently made headlines with his criticism of
Vermont's environmental permit process.
Turning his attention to the Supreme Court,
Mitchell said the justices had usurped the
Legislature's power in a host of controversial
decisions by making laws rather than interpreting
Winning applause from several republican
legislators and candidates who attended the dinner at
the Paradise Restaurant, Mitchell said it was
"critical" for voters to make their dissatisfaction
with the Supreme Court known so as to "stiffen" the
back bones of the law makers who will vote this fall
whether or not to reappoint the justices to six-year
Mitchell said House and Senate members will face
"relentless" pressure from the "looney left" to keep
their hands off the Supreme Court for fear of
supposedly politicizing the reappointment process.
"We have got to educate our fellow citizens
about the folly of the court and about the duty of the
Legislature" said Mitchell. "That august body has
never turned down a Supreme Court justice for
reappointment. But that is not because they ought not
to; it is because they have never had such incompetent
Dooley, Johnson and Morse each face a secret
ballot vote of the combined House and Senate. A
simple majority decides whether they are reappointed
to six-year terms.
Representative Walter Freed, R-Dorset, said a
"cloak of secrecy" hung over the process, with most
Vermonters mistakenly believing that state Supreme
Court justices are appointed for life. Freed praised
Mitchell for creating "an awareness" of the issue and
holding "the judicial branch accountable."
John McClaughry, president of the Ethan Allen
Institute, predicted that the campaign to oust the
three justices would be dismissed by the court's
supporters as "some sort of radical, woodchuck
McClaughry argued that the Legislature had a duty
to review whether the justices had acted "in the best
interests of the state." Using that criteria, it is
clear they can be denied reappointment ignoring the
Constitution ... -- a detriment of our government,"
In his speech, Mitchell briefly analyzed a
half-dozen cases that he illustrated the Supreme
Court's -- gance and incompetence. Among them was a
case involving a Vermont Marble Company's Electric --
Decision, a subsidiary of Mitchell's company.
Criticizing the Supreme Court for hearing the
case before a trial was held in a lower court,
Mitchell -- out Justice Dooley for writing a doctrine
"that resulted in a -- Vermont Marble.
Mitchell said that if he were elected senator or
representative, he would be outraged by the --
usurpation of the General Assembly's power to write
the state's --. Referring to the Vermont
Constitution, Mitchell said the justices in question
"just do not understand the instruction book."
Said Mitchell, "In the argot -- times: These
guys just don't get it."