By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
All of which is by way of prelude to our decision to recommend the retention of nine of the 11 appellate justices who appear on the ballot, and to recommend against the retention of three of the four Supreme Court justices - Chief Justice Ronald George and Associate Justices Ming William Chin and Janice Brown. All three are Wilson appointees, ranging in ideology from the center-right George to the far-right Brown. Their decisions have tended to diminish civil liberties at the expense of police discretion, favor employer over employee rights, and reduce the court's historic commitment to the rights of consumers.
George authored a decision that permits convictions to be upheld even when coerced confessions are introduced at trial. Chin wrote a decision limiting juveniles' rights against self-incrimination by making their discussions with probation officers admissible at trial. Brown, previously a member of Wilson's Cabinet, was appointed to the court over the objections of the state bar, which viewed her as unqualified, and her decisions are widely viewed as strong in ideology and weak in scholarship.
Mosk, an 86-year-old liberal who first became a judge in the 1940s, was elected state attorney general in 1958 and was appointed to the court by Pat Brown in 1964, remains the court's great dissenter - a champion of civil liberties and worker rights on a bench that is otherwise largely indifferent. Despite his years, he's shown no signs of slowing down; he seems to be the liberals' answer to Strom Thurmond. We strongly recommend his retention.
Ironically, what little organized opposition there is to the justices this year comes from the anti-choice right, which is going after George and Chin for their participation in a decision that struck down a parental consent requirement for minors seeking an abortion. However, if George and Chin are defeated, their successors will likely share their belief against parental consent and be clearly to their left on most other important issues that will come before the court (which has some key Prop. 209-related cases upcoming). That is because the governor who will appoint their successors will in all probability be Gray Davis. So we conclude with a caveat: If Dan Lungren, against all odds, surges into the lead in the campaign's final days, please ignore this endorsement!
JUSTICE OF THE COURT OF APPEAL
Presiding Justice Vaino Spencer - Yes
Presiding Justice Charles S. Vogel - Yes
Associate Justice Orville "Jack" Armstrong - Yes
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION - Delaine Eastin
The choice this year for the nonpartisan office of superintendent of public instruction is between an incumbent who is endeavoring to improve California's public schools and a challenger who wants to gut the public system and put our money into private schools. Incumbent Delaine Eastin, a Democratic member of the Assembly before she was elected to this post in 1994, has spent the past four years as the leading advocate for reducing class size, lengthening the school year and bringing the state's ranking in per-pupil funding back to the nation-leading levels of the Pat Brown '60s. Her opponent, Orange County schoolteacher Gloria Matta Tuchman, came to prominence this spring while fronting for Proposition 227, the anti-bilingual-education initiative. For years, however, her chief identity has been as a crusader for school vouchers - for redirecting public funds to subsidize private schools. It seems somewhat ludicrous to have to point out that the proper mission of the state's chief public-education official is to help the state's public schools, but it looks like it's come to that. And by that criterion, the only acceptable (actually, a good deal more than acceptable) candidate for the job is Delaine Eastin. We support her enthusiastically.
- Lee Baca
Since our initial endorsement appeared on Thursday morning, the sheriff's race has been transformed, of course, by the death of incumbent Sheriff Sherman Block. We were critics of Block's tenure as sheriff, and very unenthusiastic endorsers of his opponent, Sheriff Department Chief Lee Baca. In the wake of Block's death, both our support for Baca and our lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy remain intact.
Baca should have been a candidate whom progresive would have no trouble supporting. As one of the department's rising stars, Baca's been a staunch advocate of community-based policing, and his success at heading the department's West Hollywood office demonstrated a real ability to bridge cultural divides. Baca wants to increase multicultural training for deputies and make them regular visitors to schoolrooms.
Baca can be forgiven his unwillingness to challenge departmental practice in his years as a Block subordinate. But as his campaign has unfolded, as it's become clear that Baca tried to offer Block all kinds of inducements to step down, Baca has issued a series of denials that he's then been compelled to retract. He has, in short, been caught lying, and even if his ultimate motivation was a quasi-filial unwillingness to shove Block aside, that hardly inspires confidence in a candidate for sheriff.
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