Hypocritical Oath

Oregon Governor’s mad scramble to make judicial appointments

is not quite fair to equate Governor Kate Brown’s remarkably expedited handling of two suddenly-vacant Oregon Supreme Court seats, to former President Donald Trump’s hurried nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court of the United States.

But they do make an interesting comparison, especially since Brown complained about Trump’s speediness during that election year:

“Final wish” is not something that holds up in court, btw.

Yet here we are, just a week before an important Oregon election that Brown’s party appears poised to lose, and the soon-to-be-ex Governor is hastily ramming through up to four significant appointments, all at a time when nobody even wants to share a stage with her.

That is, a Governor who is not even popular among her own party — let alone the public — is about to make potentially four very key political appointments to Oregon’s beleaguered courts in the span of weeks, drastically compressing the usual timeline to do so.

For sake of comparison, it took more than five months after Justice Lynn Nakamoto’s retirement announcement for Governor Brown to name Justice Roger DeHoog to the Supreme Court.

During that time, there was a three-week window for interested applicants to submit their résumés, followed by a period during which the public could comment on those candidates. Brown even issued a press release asking for the public’s input. The applicants were then vetted and interviewed, and the Oregon State Bar compiled a list of “highly qualified” candidates — all very involved processes.

Presently, the two current vacancies were announced in early- and mid-October, and very little time was given for anyone to apply. Most of the résumés Brown has to pick from are dusty leftovers from Nakamoto’s retirement more than a year ago.

Of greatest concern, as of today, there has been no call by the Governor for public comment on the candidates.

The full list of candidates is available on the Bar’s website, and the public may provide feedback to the Governor — whether she wants any or not — by emailing her General Counsel at dustin.e.buehler@oregon.gov.

Given Governor Brown’s narrow political interests and usual litmus tests, I predict she will elevate Judge Darleen Ortega and appoint Peenesh Shah to the Supreme Court, and appoint Misha Isaak to replace Ortega on the Court of Appeals.

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