In a 4-3 vote, the Governor’s Council has approved Governor Patrick’s nomination of Appeals Court judge Fernande R.V. Duffly to the Supreme Judicial Court.
The reasons given for the three “no” votes range from barely plausible to laughable. In descending order, we have the following: (1) Councillor Iannella didn’t like Duffly’s rulings with respect to father’s rights. I suspect he was wrong on the merits (Councillor Caissie, who voted yes, said that witnesses mischaracterized her rulings, and that “probate cases and custody cases are so fact-specific … when you read the facts in the cases, she applied the law”), but it’s at least plausible to vote against a nominee because of a large issue like that one. (2) Councillor Merrigan described Duffly as “a well-intentioned, well-credentialed, thoughtful, intelligent judge,” but voted “no” apparently because of a single ruling in an arson case. Basing a “no” vote for a well qualified nominee on a single case out of a long career that encompasses hundreds if not thousands of opinions is a bit silly. (3) Councillor Cipollini, the Council’s lone Republican, voted “no” because, in his view, Duffly is “too liberal,” because she “bends the law to fit her opinion,” because “she tries to legislate from the bench, she is like an activist judge,” and because she supports the SJC’s gay marriage decisions. These views are too embarrassing to merit further comment.
The Governor’s Council is an archaic remnant of a bygone era that no longer serves any useful purpose – particularly since the vast majority of its functions were stripped after a corruption scandal back in the 1960s or ’70s. The one thing of any significance that it does – approve judges – it does not do especially well, and that function could easily be reassigned to the state Senate. Furthermore, I’d wager that something like 99% of Massachusetts residents cannot name their Councillor. It is long past time to abolish the Council by constitutional amendment, thereby streamlining the government and saving a few bucks in the process.
Please, let’s put the Council out of its misery, before it really embarrasses itself.