OPINION: Politics derail choice for state Supreme Court

By Stephen Knight

In late April, Governor Ned Lamont nominated Sandra Slack Glover to serve on the Connecticut Supreme Court. In most all cases, the state Senate approves these court nominations without controversy. But not this time, for the most unfair and specious reasons. The column will discuss this incident because it points out how the issue of abortion has become so contentious that the normal processes of government are being threatened and raw emotions are crowding out the careful deliberations that should be going on up in Hartford.

First of all, let me state right here and now that this column is not about abortion. I am staying as many light years away from the subject as I possibly can. Abortion has been legal in this state since 1990, and additional legislation strengthening it was signed into law last spring.

Therefore, on the face of it, Ms. Glover’s nomination should have been a slam dunk. Her background, education, work experience and even her political opinions made her a perfect candidate in blue, blue Connecticut. But Democrat state senators froze in their tracks when it was discovered that this woman had the effrontery, the nerve, the gall to have once put her signature on a 2017 letter recommending Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed as a U.S. Appeals court judge. Yes, the Amy Coney Barrett that the Democratic Party is holding out as a threat to democracy.

Glover suffered through a seven-hour Judiciary Committee hearing, at the end of which no vote was taken. Quotes from Sen. Cece Maher, D-Wilton, will suffice to describe the tone of the hearing, and are taken from a May 15 Connecticut Mirror article: “I cannot get past being appalled that you — as someone who speaks to the importance to you of reproductive freedom and your values — that you would have added your name to a letter supporting someone who has had made herself known in her belief systems about reproductive rights,” Maher said. Maher asked her to explain, neither the first nor last to make that request. “I’m going to ask you again, and I’m leaving the door wide open, is this something that you would do again, to write a letter supporting someone who took away the rights of every woman in this country?”Maher said. [https://ctmirror.org/2023/05/15/ct-sandra-slack-glover-supreme-court-abortion-roe-wade-amy-coney-barrett/]

Now here are the facts, again taken from the May 15 CT Mirror article:

1. “The problematic Barrett letter arose from an exercise in bipartisan comity among the legal elite … In the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1998-1999 term, Glover and Barrett were colleagues as holders of prestigious clerkships: Glover for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the court, and Barrett for Antonin Scalia, the conservative icon. With every other clerk from that term, including those who served justices of the court’s liberal bloc [my emphasis], Glover signed a letter urging Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.”

2. The letter was written in 2017, five full years [my emphasis] before Amy Coney Barrett voted on the case sending the subject of abortion back to the states.

The ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Center did not eradicate abortion rights. The decision specifically nullified Roe v Wade’s assertion that abortion was a constitutional right and ruled that abortion was a state issue.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Glover forcefully tried to convince the senators of her political stance on the issue of abortion, saying: “On this I want to be clear and unequivocal: I support a woman’s right to choose, full stop,” Glover said. “Speaking as an attorney, Dobbs was wrong, and egregiously so. Speaking as a woman, it was horrifying. All of us should have a constitutional right to control our reproductive freedom and our bodies. My belief in this is firm and unwavering.” [https://ctmirror.org/2023/05/15/ct-sandra-slack-glover-supreme-court-abortion-roe-wade-amy-coney-barrett/]

Could she possibly be any clearer in her opinion on the abortion issue? She went on to backpedal in an attempt to appease Sen. Maher and others, saying that she shouldn’t have signed the letter. Frankly, she debased herself attempting to mollify them.

But to no avail. By the end of the hearing, it was evident that these state senators lacked the intestinal fortitude to face their cocktail-party friends in Wilton or West Hartford and carefully explain that this letter had absolutely nothing to do with abortion and the nominee was superbly qualified to serve our state as a Connecticut Supreme Court judge. So, she withdrew her name from consideration days later.

This is a real shame. Such a talented person with such an amazing resume. She merely signed a letter praising a person about her qualities as a candidate and way before the abortion issue came up before the Supreme Court. Somehow Ms. Glover was supposed to foretell the future and know that Amy Coney Barrett would 1) be on the Supreme Court and 2) would be part of a majority that would hear a case about abortion. And this is good government? No, this is craven pols engaged in smearing an innocent person. Nothing more.

Stephen Knight is a former Wallingford town councilor.


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