Academy Award voters will probably have more time this year to consider the nominees for best costume design than the General Assembly will spend reviewing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's nomination of Andrew McDonald to the state's highest court. This is one more sign of life in a one-party state.
McDonald has served as Malloy's legal counsel for the past two years and before that was a member of the state Senate. The practice of a chief executive nominating his chief legal adviser to a high court has fallen into some disrepute since Republicans revolted when former President George W. Bush tried to heave White House legal counsel Harriet Miers onto the Supreme Court in 2005.
McDonald served as the co-chairman of the legislature's Judiciary Committee during his tenure in the Senate. When a Republican was nominated to the lead the high court, McDonald wanted months and months to review that judge's record. Scrutiny of judicial nominations has become an operation of political affiliation. Democrats decline to give their own a serious examination.
This is good news for the tranche of new Superior Court judges Malloy will soon nominate to serve in a branch of the government that is enduring serious budget cuts. If he appoints a dozen, one will be a Republican, representing the price of a quiet life for all. The most contentious action will be among Republican leaders to get that one spot (maybe two, if Malloy thinks he might need their votes on the budget mess) for a friend, ally or former colleague.
Republicans should prefer silence to what their 2010 candidate for attorney general, Martha Dean, was offering on her Facebook page last week. Words are my business, but it is hard to describe the revulsion caused by what seems like Dean giving her odious imprimatur to the madness of conspiracy theorists who have appeared in the wake of the Newtown shootings tragedy.
Dean, who posted a link to a YouTube video, "The Sandy Hook Shooting-Fully Exposed," which uses a hodgepodge of news clips of the event, suggests in a comment of her own that "it is doubtful that we will ever get answers to these or the questions raised in the video." It's a video that goes to some length to question the grief of parents who lost children in the slaughter.
Republican leaders, particularly those considering a bid for statewide office, face an early test. Will they condemn Dean and her endorsement of this chilling view of the Newtown killings and their aftermath?
On an uplifting note, take some time this weekend to reflect on or share the inspiration provided by the life of Martin Luther King. A year ago, I was inspired by a sermon delivered by the Rev. Canon Petero Sabune, the Episcopal church's officer for Africa, to read the first two volumes of Taylor Branch's acclaimed trilogy of King and the struggles and triumphs of the civil rights movement. (I'm starting the third.)
The passage of time has made King a figure for the ages, but the details of his determination in the face of obstacles that would have defeated most other mortals have faded.
His life was in constant danger, the FBI harassed and wiretapped him wherever he went. Even his putative allies, the Kennedys, conspired with J. Edgar Hoover to torment King. Upon taking office in 1961, President John F. Kennedy nominated some viciously segregationist judges to federal trial courts in Southern states. It is astounding to think about now, but Branch is a master of details and that's an ugly one.
Federal appellate court judges appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, appalled at what they were seeing, worked to undo the poisonous trial court judges, and often succeeded. Despite their work, King and thousands of others were subjected to harrowing abuse by law enforcement officials.
Finding funds — modest amounts by today's standards — to keep the movement going and bail protesters out of jail took much of King's time. The Rockefellers and actor Harry Belafonte were important sources of aid in the frequent financial crunches that bedeviled King and his top lieutenants. King's life was marked by sacrifice and danger, as were the lives of the millions he inspired to join him. We are all in their debt.