Delaware Public Media

Gov. Carney's judicial balance appeal to U.S. Supreme Court finds support

Oct 8, 2019

Gov. John Carney’s push to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review Delaware’s judicial balance requirement is getting added support.

Carney petitioned the nation’s highest court after a federal appeals court earlier this year upheld a decision ruling the requirement unconstitutional.  Delaware’s constitution requires some courts be split almost evenly between the two major political parties, Democrat and Republican.

The state’s five most recent governors submitted an amicus brief urging the justices to take up the case. Those governors are Democrats, Jack Markell, Ruth Ann Minner and Tom Carper and Republicans Mile Castle abd Dale Wolf.

 

Two former Delaware chief justices, Democrat Myron T. Steele, and Republican Norman Veasey, also filed a brief. Another came from a group of 17 legal scholars, including Widener University Delaware Law School dean Rod Smolla.

These amicus briefs support the requirement, arguing that Delaware has a sovereign right to establish qualification for judgeships. They also claim the decision threatens the state’s independent judiciary.

The case was brought by James Adams, an independent who argues the political balance requirement effectively limits service on state courts to Democrats and Republicans, and hurts his chances of becoming a judge.

 

A decision on whether the Supreme Court will hear the case is expected later this year or in early 2020.