KC Justice Hilyer Slaps Former SC Judge Sanders' "Extreme Ideology"

By Erica C. Barnett March 20, 2012

In a statement responding to ousted state supreme court justice Richard Sanders' letter to supporters intimating strongly that he plans to run for the seat being vacated by retiring justice Tom Chambers yesterday, King County Superior Court judge Bruce Hilyer, who's also running to replace Chambers, slammed Sanders for his "extreme ideology" and said that returning him to the bench would "harm the court’s ability to address difficult cases and undermine the respect of the people of Washington."

Sanders, who was narrowly defeated by Charlie Wiggins in 2010, was a controversial figure on the court. In addition to his vehement support for the anti-gay-rights Defense of Marriage Act, Sanders has defended stalkers, opposed government incentives for utility ratepayers who lower their emissions, and argued that cities and counties shouldn't have the right to charge fees for things like road maintenance and transit. Famously, he also commented in 2010 that black people have a "crime problem," a statement so egregious it actually prompted the Seattle Times to reverse their endorsement of Sanders and go for Wiggins.

"The Court—and the people it serves—have moved beyond the sometimes circus-like atmosphere created by Sanders," Hilyer's statement concludes. "This 2012 election should be about building upon the professionalism and experience of the court, not avenging past election defeats.”

Sanders' email asked recipients to vote on whether he should run again in an online survey featuring two (rather leading) options: "Yes, we need a voice of liberty on the Court," and "No, we don't need a fighter for individual rights on the Court."

Two years after his defeat, Sanders is still on the court as a pro tem justice---a position that allows him to vote on cases on which he heard arguments and participated in deliberations. As we noted back in January, just two cases---one involving a firearms enhancement law, the other involving a dispute between two transit operators---remain on Sanders' docket.

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