Under the Dome

Thwarted Supreme Court candidate asks judges for early ruling

A lawyer who is a former legislative staffer wants a three-judge panel to rule that a new law that will allow Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds to keep his job without facing competition at the ballot box violates the state constitution.

Lawyers for Sabra Faires filed a motion for summary judgment Monday in her lawsuit against the State Board of Elections. Faires worked for legislative leaders of both parties and ran for a seat on the state Appeals Court two years ago. She wanted to run for the Supreme Court this year, but was prevented from doing so because a law passed last year allowed only for a retention election in the race.

The law, signed last June, did away with conventional elections for Supreme Court. Sitting justices can say they want to run in retention elections where voters have a choice whether to keep them on the bench but don’t have a choice of candidates. Edmunds is the only justice up for retention this year.

In a motion filed Monday, Faires’ lawyers said legislators ignored the need to amend the constitution in order to change change judicial elections to referenda.

Between 1962 and 2015, 34 bills proposing to change election of appeallate judges to merit selections or retention elections were filed, the motion said. All but one – the one that became law – called for a constitutional amendment.

Two voters are also plaintiffs in the suit. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Feb. 16.