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Support for Colorado's Judges -- CJI Letter to the Editor

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[Note: This CJI letter to the editor originally appeared in the March 10, 2024, issue of The Denver Gazette in response to recent Gazette editorials. Reprinted here with permission.]

We write in response to the Gazette’s March 5th editorials about the U.S. Supreme Court’s Trump v. Anderson decision. Unfortunately, those editorials inaccurately and irresponsibly impugn our Colorado Supreme Court. The Gazette’s readers deserve to know the true facts.

The Colorado court did its job—it decided based on the legal issues and arguments presented by each party’s lawyers. The issues were complex and unprecedented. The court disagreed about the case’s resolution, issuing a 4-3 decision.

On appeal the U.S. Supreme Court considered the similar issues, but with new arguments from new lawyers. While that court’s outcome was unanimous, the reasoning was not, as shown by separate opinions issued by four of the nine justices.

The Gazette pieces wrongly portray the Colorado court’s decision as being political. But Colorado’s judicial merit selection system, adopted by voters in 1966, was designed to avoid politics and partisan political elections for judges.

Instead, Colorado’s judges—including its justices—undergo a rigorous selection process involving volunteer citizen nominating commissions, which by our state constitution cannot be dominated by any one political party. Judges’ political affiliations play no role whatsoever in the selection process.

Trump v. Anderson presented dif­ficult issues prompting principled disagreement and debate among all of us. But the judicial process worked.

Disagreement with the courts’ decisions and legal reasoning is fine. But corrosive rhetoric that feeds misunderstanding and distrust of our Colorado institutions is not. Our community deserves better.