Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Richard Sanders


Our tortured pick for state Supreme Court: Richard Sanders

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

We would have preferred a different choice for the state Supreme Court.

Four candidates entered the race for the seat Justice Tom Chambers is leaving. Either of the two eliminated in the primary – former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg and Judge Bruce Hilyer of King County – would have been better than the two who wound up in November’s runoff.

Not that we don’t like Richard Sanders and Sheryl Gordon McCloud. Each is highly intelligent and devoted to the law. It comes down to the role of the judiciary. Either McCloud or Sanders would bring a settled ideological agenda to the cases that reach the high court.

Sanders is a doctrinaire libertarian. McCloud is what used to be called a flaming liberal. Passionate political beliefs keep the fires of democracy burning, but good court decisions aren’t born in furnaces. Sanders and McCloud both appear likely to equate their personal philosophies with constitutional dictates.
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Impressive Supreme Court candidates

The editorial board is on the home stretch with our candidate interviews for endorsements. In the remaining days, we’ll be focusing on state Supreme Court and Pierce County Superior Court races.

Today we talked with the four candidates hoping to replace retiring Justice Tom Chambers on the state Supreme Court: former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, former Justice Richard Sanders, King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer and Bainbridge Island attorney Sheryl Gordon McCloud.

There was a lot of legal and cerebral firepower in the room, and we were impressed with the cases they made for themselves. We haven’t talked

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There’s more than racism behind crime rates

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders got himself in trouble – what else is new? – for asserting last week that blacks wind up in state prison at higher rates because they commit crimes at higher rates.

Predictably, he got slammed from all directions. He’s clearly guilty of insensitivity: That was an absurdly simplistic summary of an extremely complex problem. Still, his comments ought to be the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one.

The state’s black population is roughly 4 percent. Its prison population is roughly 20 percent. That disparity should appall anyone. But Sanders was right in one respect: Attributing the gap exclusively to racism won’t help solve the specific problems that perpetuate it.

Racism created many of the difficulties some minorities continue to struggle with. African Americans – who, with American Indians, suffered the worst of it – endured more than two centuries of slavery and another century of legal subjugation.

No group could survive a crucible like that without scars and disadvantages. Though most American blacks have since clawed their way into the middle class, far too many remain in poverty.
But if racism provides the overall context, more specific circumstances explain much of the disparity in arrests, convictions and imprisonment.
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Sanders for Supreme Court, Sussman for District Court

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Richard B. Sanders is one of a kind on a court that often doesn’t see matters his way. We like that about him, and we like that about the state Supreme Court.

Sanders is easily the most controversial justice of the state’s nine.

He’s earned the ire of police and prosecutors for his unyielding defense of defendants’ rights. He did time in the national spotlight a couple of years back for yelling “Tyrant!” at former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

He’s also skirted the boundaries of good sense, if not judicial ethics, by chatting up sex offenders at the McNeil Island sex predator center and by not recusing himself from a court decision that posed a possible conflict of interest.

But here’s the rub: Besides being a thorough supporter of open government, Sanders is also the court’s biggest champion of individual rights. He forces the court to deal with basic constitutional issues. Having his voice in the mix as decisions are made ensures stronger rulings, whether his opinion carries the day or not.

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For state supreme court: Johnson, Sanders, Wiggins

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Two Washington Supreme Court races offer the most important decisions on the August primary ballot.

Not only will those contests produce two of the nine leaders of the third branch of government, the final decisions could be made Aug. 17. Under the curious rules that govern judicial elections in this state, a supreme court candidate who wins an outright majority in the primary is effectively elected immediately.

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, running for re-election in Position 5, drew no challenger this year and wins another term by default.

Because only two lawyers are running for Position 1, that race will be settled in August. The two are Stan Rumbaugh, a respected Tacoma attorney, and sitting Justice Jim Johnson.

Both candidates have the intellect and experience the job demands. Rumbaugh is not only a successful attorney, he has also contributed much to Pierce County in volunteer leadership roles – chairing, for example, the boards of Bates Technical College and the Tacoma Housing Authority.

If elected, Rumbaugh would likely lean more to the left than Johnson.
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