October 23, 2006
Supreme Court Candidate Forum at Downtown Seattle Republican Club

Tonight's meeting of the Downtown Seattle Republican Club will be a forum with for State Supreme Court candidates Susan Owens and Stephen Johnson.

UPDATE: Owens backed out of the program this afternoon. She's concerned that with me as a moderator it won't be a "level playing field". But her campaign knew that I was a moderator last week when they agreed to do it. We also let the Owens campaign suggest the second moderator and we went with their pick of P-I columnist Joel Connelly, whose newspaper endorsed Owens and who has personally criticized some of Johnson's supporters for their campaign against Owens. We hope Justice Owens changes her mind and joins us, as the forum will be held with her or without her.

The program will be held at the College Club, 5th and Madison in downtown Seattle, Monday, October 23rd starting at 5pm. The event is open to the public and there is no charge to attend, but seating is limited and RSVP is required. To RSVP or for more information, please e-mail: info .AT. seattlerepublicans.org

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at October 23, 2006 01:00 PM | Email This
Comments
1. I think congratulations are in order for Stefan for organizing the candidate forum and getting Susan Owens and Joel Connelly to participate -- and getting it televised by TVW and the Seattle Channel. And congratulations also for all the other participants -- including Stephen Johnson.

Posted by: Richard Pope on October 19, 2006 07:38 PM
2. The person who organized the program and got all of the participants on board is Phil Bevis. He deserves the congratulations, not me.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on October 19, 2006 07:42 PM
3. While it is a sidebar to the subject of this thread, I would like to propose that this event provides significant evidence that a threshold has been crossed; i.e.:
The next time some bureaucrat in KCE or etcetera tries to claim Stefan is not a journalist, the fact that he and Connelly are the ENTIRE interview panel that will be grilling two candidates for the WA Supremes is IMO a pretty overwhelming counterpoint.

Posted by: Methow Ken on October 19, 2006 07:54 PM
4. Indeed Richard, Stefan should be congratulated, and I offer mine.

Something else though I noticed today while browsing the voter's guide. Gerry Alexander is on the ballot. Did he not win the seat in September when he received more than 50% of the votes? Same with all the other "non-partisan" offices.

What is this all about?

Oh, and BTW - Congratulations to you Richard for getting on ballot. I liked your web-site - Just regret I cannot vote for an Issaquah position.

And one last thing. My neice was over for dinner last Sunday. She is a Freshman at UW. The loonies there are registering voters and told her that it was OK to to register in more than one county, and that she should vote both the King Co ballot and the Asotin Co ballot she registered for when she turned 18 last spring. Looks like the Sec. of State will need to be checking for double registrations very carefully in that district (and other academic districts too).

Posted by: deadwood on October 19, 2006 08:38 PM
5. Hopefully, you will expose Susan Owens as the judicial activist that she is and help folks realize that Stephen Johnson is the "people's choice". The WSSC sorely needs to be moved away from over the cliff on the left side.

Posted by: KS on October 19, 2006 09:10 PM
6. Stefan, one serious question you should ask Owens is whether she can point to any specific area of law or legal issue on which she's exercised leadership or influence among her colleagues. And I'm not talking about Court administration or diversity or any of that. I mean doctrine. Because, to be honest, as a lawyer, I'm at a complete loss to think of any single issue in which it's fair to call Owens an expert or to say that she's taken a significant role in developing an area of the law.

And the proof, I think, is in the pudding: As best as I can tell, Owens has written exactly ZERO concurring opinions in her nearly six years on the Court. (I may have overlooked one or two.) And, incredibly, she's written less than ten dissenting opinions. Sure, she's joined her share of concurrences and dissents, but she's made no effort at all to put a personal stamp on the Court or, it seems, offer any leadership in developing the law.

It's hard to see how she can say she has an independent voice when she uses it so rarely. I wonder if she can explain why her pen has been so silent.

Posted by: Larry on October 20, 2006 10:13 AM
7. Stefan, another question is to request clarification of her comment in the Seattle Times on Wednesday, noted by you:

'Johnson and other critics say Owens ... is a liberal "activist" judge who is too willing to decide policy matters that should be left to the Legislature.
But Owens suggests there are times the court has to play such a role.
"The Legislature is really behind the times socially," she said during a recent interview.'

Some expounding by Justice Owens on the role of the Supreme Court as social arbiter might be interesting.

Posted by: srodli on October 20, 2006 11:23 AM
8. I understand that Johnson has received more endorsements from Newspapers than Owens. Very interesting.

Posted by: Misty on October 20, 2006 11:31 AM
9. Ask her to explain why, in her LEGAL opinion, when courts all over this country have upheld DOMA, and when SCOTUS has ruled sexual orientation is not a suspect class, that she could dissent in that case?

Ask her why women do not have the expectation of a right to privacy in the case of up-skirt photography?

Posted by: Palouse on October 20, 2006 11:35 AM
10. Stefan, I heard Owens' ad again calling Johnson "partisan" and talking about the "big money interests" supporting him. Perhaps a question about the makeup of her supporters (I believe it's something like 90% liberal Dems) and whether she's getting money from the unions (I assume she was in the majority in the Court's ruling on spending union dues to support candidates without the members' permission)?

Posted by: sro on October 20, 2006 01:34 PM
11. Stefan--
This will be as easy as shootin' a hog eatin' slop!
I would love to see you formulate several questions and follow-up questions surroundig 1 major group of decisions....OPEN GOVERNMENT.

To put it mildly, Justice Owens has been hostile towards open government and public disclosure. For example, in Hangarnter v. City of Seattle, the Justices ruled that Seattle bureaucrats and Monorail officials didn't have to hand over public documents because the public request was "overbroad." In the same case, Justice Owens also ruled that public records were exempt under the "attorney-client privilege." Under this precedent, government officials only have to run public documents past their attorneys and those records are exempt from public purview.

In another open government case, Yousoufian v. King County, Justice Owens drastically limited the amount of penalties local governments are required to pay for unlawfully withholding public documents.

The most troubling open government case, however, was the Sound Transit eminent domain decision in Pierce County. In that case, Justice Owens joined the majority which ruled that a Web posting was sufficient notice of an eminent domain hearing, even though the landowner whose property was being condemned received no other public notice by Sound Transit.

The newspapers HATE Owens for these decisions.
You may also want to ask that MAROON Connelly, how as a so-called Journalism Professional, he and his rag-ass fish-wrapper could ever endorse Ownes because of these decisions....especially since Connelly's own employer is part of the Washington State Coalition for Open Government.

PULLLEASE stay focused on these decisions......and do not let Connellly off the hook either.

Posted by: aaaaaargh on October 20, 2006 03:38 PM
12. Re: aaaaaargh -- Owens and her consultants will spend lots of time going over how she'll respond at the forum to questions on "Hangartner" and "Miller" issues. Maybe you knew that.

Posted by: Orence on October 20, 2006 07:48 PM
13. Orence--
Of course they will try their darnedest to put "lipstick on the pig".
This is where the ability of Stefan to question and be prepared for follow-up questions is critical to this debate.
These decisions were absolutely horrendous....no matter how much spin Owens consultants dream up.
Johnson better be prepared to attack these decisions to.
Keep Owens on the defensive.
She is a moron.
She will crack.
Good luck to Johnson & Stefan....they have a once in a lifetime opportunity to expose Owens stupidity and hold her accountable.
Don't blow it Stefan.

Posted by: aaaaaargh on October 20, 2006 08:17 PM
14. "absolutely horrendous"??

I thought CJ Alexander's comments on those two opinions in the article in this month's Bar News seemed reasonable.

Posted by: renny on October 21, 2006 11:01 AM
15. Sorry, Stefan:

This just in from Owens:

We regret that we will not be able to attend the scheduled forum sponsored by the Seattle Downtown Republican Club this afternoon at 5pm. Justice Owens and her opponent have appeared in numerous forums, some partisan, some not, and every time it has been a well-moderated, evenhanded debate.

Despite assurances that tonight's event would be no different, one of the scheduled moderators is in fact a donor to Stephen Johnson's campaign, has personally endorsed Johnson on his Blog, and is an outspoken critic of Justice Owens and many of her colleagues.

Typically moderators are bona fide journalists bound by professional ethics and prohibited from direct involvement in a campaign. Because one of the scheduled moderators of this event is not a journalist but very much an advocate for Johnson, we do not feel that it will be a level playing field.

This concern was apparently felt by Johnson as well, who demanded on Friday that another moderator be replaced.

Justice Owens and her opponent will be appearing together this Friday in Olympia at a public forum*, and other joint appearances are still possible.

We regret any inconvenience this has caused you, members of the public, the media, and the event planner.


Posted by: ivan on October 23, 2006 01:11 PM
16. So Joel Connelly is not a partisan? The only difference is that he hides behind the cloak of objectivity, when in fact, he is no more "in the middle" than Stefan is in this race. Owens is a coward.

Posted by: Palouse on October 23, 2006 01:26 PM
17. Will Connelly let the voters know that Owens backed out>

Posted by: Cheryl on October 23, 2006 01:35 PM
18. Owens simply had no answer for questions on her hideous decisions regarding Open Government.
Owens actions were unjustifiable.
Backing out of this will hurt her more than participating.
Pound her for her absence Stefan.
What a weak candidate she is.
Way too fragile to be a Supreme Court Justice!

Posted by: aaaaaaaargh on October 23, 2006 01:50 PM
19. What a weenie she is! Was she expecting maybe Larry King with his softball, fawning questions?

Posted by: katomar on October 23, 2006 02:12 PM
20. So who did Johnson demand be replaced? Connelly? Or was this some other forum? Was the moderator replaced, and, if not, did he cut and run like Owens or suck it up and drive on?

Posted by: sro on October 23, 2006 02:22 PM
21. thanks also goes to iban for his deft display of copy/paste.

This is wonderful news. There were a couple of Republicans who hadn't seen the light about Owens, and now can see her for the partisan that she is.

Bravo iban (here's another banana for ya!)

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 23, 2006 02:24 PM
22. Johnson demanded the ouster of Josh Feit and/or Dan Savage of The Stranger, who endorsed Owens.

Posted by: watcher on October 23, 2006 02:50 PM
23. Palouse wrote, "So Joel Connelly is not a partisan?"

Stefan (or Stafan) donated to the Johnson campaign (http://www.pdc.wa.gov/rptimg/Default.aspx?batchnumber=100169134&formtype=C3)

Stefan should do the right thing and give up his moderator role so the event can go forward without such an obvious conflict of interest.

Posted by: Daniel K on October 23, 2006 03:02 PM
24. He donated to a campaign, so what. Does that make his opinion of the race that Johnson should be elected any different than Connelly's opinion that Owens should be elected? Connelly is NOT an objective participant in that debate.

Posted by: Palouse on October 23, 2006 03:06 PM
25. Connelly has not donated to Owens campaign or personally endorsed...I think that's different.

Posted by: watcher on October 23, 2006 03:13 PM
26. Owens polling outfit says she has this election in the bag....mainly because of the "Vote for any Woman against Any Man no matter how unqualified she is" crowd....aka Emily's List.
Unfortunately, most voters just don't know what a nitwit she is.
I saw the last Forum on TVW. It appears there is something wrong with her. If that was the best she could do, I don't blame her for hiding.
IF Johnson did demand a Moderator be replaced....it was a terrible mistake because it allows her an "out". Too bad...Johnson can scorch her no matter who the Moderator is.

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on October 23, 2006 03:23 PM
27. Johnson whined and got Feit bumped: http://www.thestranger.com/blog/2006/10/whos_biased_now.php

Posted by: watcher on October 23, 2006 03:41 PM
28. I be voting for Stephen Johnson over Susan Owens. Her arrogance has done nothing but get worse day after day.

I will also be writing in John Groen over Chief Justice Gerry Alexander. Yes, I know this one is a done deal but I cannot in good conscience vote for Alexander or leave the box blank.

Posted by: Right Wing Wacko on October 23, 2006 03:54 PM
29. So Johnson complained and got a moderator removed - not a good move if he's as stong a cancidate as I believe he is. How soon after he was aware of Feit's presence did he make his complaint? And if Feit had not been cut, would Johnson have continued, or cut and run? It's anybody's guess.

Owens' first action, however, was to just cut and run - after she had known for a week that Stefan would be one of the moderators. Instead of lodging a protest, or having the common courtesy to give some notice, she cancels on the day of the event.

No guts, no class, no vote.

Posted by: sro on October 23, 2006 03:55 PM
30. Susan Owens is a true coward. A Supreme Court Justice does the elfoldo at the last minute, after everything was planned. Why? Because someone who knows how she has plundered the State Constitution with inconsistent, half-baked logic and would expose her for the liberal fraud she is!

Posted by: bigdawg on October 23, 2006 07:08 PM
31. As one of the handful of spectators at the forum today, I was as dismayed at the lack of public interest as I was pleased at the structure of the debate.

It was nothing like a 'gotcha' session. Both Stefan Sharkansky and Joel Connelly asked reasonable and proper questions of both candidates. Theoretically, Justice Owens will respond on paper to Connelly's fine questions to her vacant seat, but based on her physical absence I'd doubt that her mental engagement is any more in evidence. Senator Johnson noted that, in comparison to the debate rules limiting time to answer, any deferred answers from her are like a take-home test [with no telling who actually drafted the answer-HB].

By pulling the plug at the last minute, Justice Owens has demonstrated a contempt for the political process that overlaps her contempt (evidenced by several of her SC decisions) for individual rights over government mandates no matter how unconstitutional. She deserves to lose this one.

PS - my wife heard on KUOW that the debate 'had been cancelled'. Was this an MSM attempt to kill attendance at the debate?

Posted by: Hank Bradley on October 23, 2006 07:42 PM
32. All the more reason to vote for Steve Johnson ! Owens has contempt for anyone who scrutinize her positions. She is a coward and is afraid she would generate negative publicity if her feet are held to the fire, which Stefan would do. In the words of Michael Savage; "The stench on the bench are making me clench !"

However, if Steve Johnson were elected, there would be less stench on the Supreme bench !

Posted by: KS on October 23, 2006 07:52 PM
33. deadwood, you need to contact Sam Reed's office and report what they are doing over at the UW. That is outrageous! Why can't they just register people honestly instead of misinforming people on election law??

Posted by: Michele on October 23, 2006 08:28 PM
34. This one is for Larry, the apparent legal expert. You note that Justice Owens has not written many dissents/concurrences and that this somehow suggests that she has not put her "stamp" on the Court. What? That is an inane proposition, simply because one does not dissent or specially concur everytime they get the chance, does not speak to their judicial stature or accumen. In fact, it speaks to a need, perhaps a desire, to write for the sake of simply writing. Indeed, as you should know, given that you are lawyer (as am I), that conurrences and dissents have no real value in the present tense and unless you are Justice Harlan writing in the area of criminal procedure during the 60s, generally have no real impact on future decisions. In any event, do you really expect judicial giants to come from a system where judges are elected?

Posted by: Flee on October 23, 2006 08:58 PM
35. Btw, heard that Michael Steele is running dead even with Cardin in Maryland for U.S. Senate! I'm stoked! Made a few donations in the last few weeks. C'mon, people--let's get this wonderful guy into the U.S. senate! Make a donation---michaelsteeleformaryland.com

Posted by: Michele on October 23, 2006 09:58 PM
36. Michele:

They don't have direct authority in these matters. The most they can do is report it to the King Co. Attorney, who do not have the resources to chase all the fraudsters.

Like other unenforceable (or at least unenforced) laws, they lead to more lawlessness and further erosion of the rule of law. Sad but true.

Posted by: deadwood on October 23, 2006 10:24 PM
37. If Owens were such a liberal she'd have more support from the trial lawyers. The organization, sure, but I mean the individual attorneys. They are split. Why? because Owens is a moderate who rules for them as often as she rules agsinst them.

Posted by: watcher on October 23, 2006 11:11 PM
38. Owens is an activist judge who is trying to institute gay marriage against the will of the people in Washington state. She also shows zero respect for our civil property rights.

Posted by: Misty on October 23, 2006 11:14 PM
39. Why should Owens have anything to do with this?

She probably just didn't want to breathe the same air as you...

Posted by: Playin' Possum on October 24, 2006 07:26 AM
40. According to Owens campaign official Excuse Release they will be happy to appear this Friday the 27th at noon at a "public forum" sponsored by the "Government Lawyers and Washington Women Lawyers" at Rambling Jacks Restaurant in Olympia, WA 520 4th Ave. E.

Will they have an opportunity for similar exposure has they had with TVW? Will it be covered by TVW? What provisions are being made for the public to hear or see the debate? Are any of the moderators contributors to any of the PAC's that are supporting Owens? Should they recuse themselves? Who are the moderators? Will they or their firms have business before the court? Perhaps the public should know more before the forum to be able to judge the "fairness" of the venue.

Posted by: Smokie on October 24, 2006 08:15 AM
41. This is what a level playing field looks like to those on the left --> /

Posted by: Jeff B. on October 24, 2006 04:35 PM
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