Delaware Politics: Who Will Gov. Jack Markell Appoint as Chief Justice?
Getting a chief justice confirmed can be a Grinchy affair.
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When Markell makes his appointment for the next chief justice, it could come from the other justices, from the other courts or from the law firms. It could even come from the other party.
Delaware is the only state that requires its judiciary to be politically balanced. A Democratic governor has to appoint a fair share of Republican judges, and vice versa. With Steele’s departure, the five-member Supreme Court is left with two Democratic justices and two Republican justices, so it could conceivably go either way.
The political balance, written into the state constitution, even led to what might have been the greatest political deal of this young 21st century. Jane Brady, the Republican attorney general, was planning on running for re-election in 2006, except her Democratic opponent was going to be Beau Biden. It was big trouble. When a Republican judgeship opened in late 2005, it looked like an escape hatch.
Minner was the governor. Back-channel negotiations were commenced. If Minner put Brady on the bench, it meant Minner would be able to appoint a fellow Democrat of her own choosing to fill out the last couple of years of Brady’s term.
The deal was done. Brady became a judge. Minner named Carl Danberg, now a judge himself, as attorney general, and Beau Biden had an open race to get elected to statewide office.
Just another three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich. Hold the arsenic sauce.