Election 2012: Judicial Race for Chief Justice
Conveniently, I don't think there are any contested judicial races on the ballot for my future St. Paul address that are not also on the ballot for my Minneapolis address. This post is going to be just about the Chief Justice race, though, because I have a surprising amount to say.
Lorie Skjerven Gildea (incumbent)
I nearly always vote for incumbents in judicial races, but I realize that "well, s/he is the incumbent" is not necessarily a particularly persuasive argument to my readers. So I started doing a little digging this time and wound up really perplexed by what the hell does this Dan Griffiths guy actually believe, anyway.
His website is ... vague. Dog-whistle-y in a Christian Dominionist sort of way. There's the picture of his wife, staring up at him all smiley while he stares out resolutely at the camera. There's the phrase, "I offer a servant's perspective," which he then clarifies below is a reference to elected officials being public servants. In "About Dan," one of his sons describes him as "righteous." This is not language anyone outside of Dominionist subcultures uses to describe real people that they actually know, ever (unless it's the late 1980s/early 1990s -- it was one of those terms that enjoyed a brief vogue that might have been Bill and Ted related, I can't quite remember. It is not used SERIOUSLY by anyone outside that subculture.) He quotes Bork (OMG, remember Bork?)
If you're a Dominionist and you look at this website, you will see someone who is signalling clearly and repeatedly, I am one of you. Even as he carefully stays away from the phrases that the left has learned to watch for, like "original intent of the founders" or "activist judges."
And yet when people have publicly said, "This guy is a stealth right-winger" he has popped up in the comments (scroll down, you'll find him) to say that this isn't true and you should look at his website to see what he really believes.
But his website contains no positions of any kind. On his Facebook page, someone asks him about this and he says, "That is because judicial candidates are prohibited from making a pledge or a promise on specific issues that could come before the Court (which is just about everything). That is why I speak about the principles I adhere to. One issue I can speak to is that I believe judges must apply the law (and Constitution), not rewrite it."
...and, sure. You're not supposed to say, on your web page, when you're running for a judgeship, "I will firmly uphold a woman's right to an abortion!" (say) or "I will rule in favor of gay marriage!" or "I will rule against Obamacare any chance I get!" or "I will rule in favor of Naomi. ALWAYS. Whatever she wants, she gets."
But you can talk about your principles far more specifically than Griffith does. You are certainly allowed to say that you've not yet heard a convincing argument that women have a legal right to abortions, if you're anti-abortion. You're allowed to say that in general you think that love is love, regardless of whether the two people in love are two men, or a man and a woman. He doesn't say any of this stuff.
He does, however, have this great picture of himself posing by the party booths for Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Jessecrats. It sort of implies that they all think he's awesome. Never mind that this picture was taken at the State Fair, and anyone who wants can take a picture of themselves in the DFL booth at the State Fair.
So anyway, here's another "he's a stealth Dominionist" article, which he responds to, once again. In his rebuttal, he says (among many other things) that the article says he's on the board of a network of radio stations "that preaches hell-fire and damnation to gays, pro-choicers, and other liberals." Griffith responds, "Wrong again. I am on the board of ONE radio station in International Falls. They have nothing to do with politics, just service to the community."
Here's the radio station: PsalmFM. And their programming listing.
Let me note for the record that I do not think Christian is synonymous with Dominionist, nor do I think that a Christian radio station inherently "preaches hellfire and damnation" to anyone. And I'm not going to listen to the shows. But I did visit some of the websites, and found stuff that disturbed me, like the "Eight Lies About Marriage" article from familylife.com that listed as lie eight, "there's no hope for my marriage--it can't be fixed." (Look, if your husband is beating you, you need to get out. This is not a fixable situation and you should not stick around and pray for God to change his heart. This website does have an article about abuse that at least says that it's unacceptable and not the fault of the victim, and encourages victims to leave -- but with the ultimate goal of reconciliation because "change is possible." Yeah.)
Also, the PsalmFM website itself features a "Marriage Minute" (a video made by the group that's pushing for the anti-gay amendment that's on the ballot this year). Interestingly, on Griffith's facebook page, someone asks, "Will you strive to give LGBT equality?" Griffith responds, "EVERYONE deserves to be treated equally under the law."
There's a level of disingenuousness in his campaign that is frankly breathtaking.
Back in 2010, Griffith was also running for judge, and a lot less stealthy about his beliefs -- apparently he got endorsed by both the GOP and the ultra-conservative Constitution Party.
Anyway, I will wholeheartedly endorse Lorie Skjerven Gildea on the grounds that Dan Griffith IS, in fact, a stealth Dominionist, and a freaking dangerous one -- he apparently got 48.5% of the vote in the Judicial race he ran in back in 2010. Gildea is a Pawlenty appointee, and I would prefer someone more liberal. Griffith is NOT IT.
But he wants you to think he is, while he counts on his religious-right allies picking up on all the cues about his real beliefs.