Once Republican candidate for attorney general Martha Dean saw the written decision from the state Supreme Court that kept Democrat Susan Bysiewicz off the AG primary ballot, she went to court to try to knock Democratic nominee George Jepsen off the ballot in the general election Tuesday. She certainly has the right to do it but in the bigger picture, it is a very dangerous attempt to take away the choice of voters for a constitutional office. It is also very close to disenfranchising a sizable portion of the electorate.
The fault for the whole mess lies mostly with the state Supreme Court itself. In the Bysiewicz case, the court narrowly defined the definition of “active practice” law, ten years of which is required by state statute. It determined Bysiewicz didn’t have what it takes to qualify partly because she had never tried a case. Seizing on that, Dean now argues that Jepsen doesn’t have litigation experience and uses his own words during the campaign to back her point. Jepsen has said on occasion that he is not a litigator. He is a lawyer who has worked as a state Senator and Democratic party chairman among other positions.
Leaving aside for now the fact that the ten-year requirement is arbitrary (until the statute was changed recently, one wasn’t even required to be a lawyer to be a probate judge in Connecticut) and is in state statute, not in the state Constitution, the bottom line is, shouldn’t voters decide who is qualified for any particular office?
If the court, even on appeal, ultimately agrees with Dean after a (likely) Jepsen victory at the polls, the result is unthinkable. Does the court overturn an election, leaving the newly elected governor with the power to appoint a new AG? What a mess.