There is an unusual news report out of Arkansas, based on a former state Supreme Court justice’s interview conducted as part of an oral history project. It involves a court vote that was withheld on a white-hot political issue, concern about political influence-wielding, and a politician’s retort that the episode demonstrates the need for judicial term limits.
The Arkansasnews.com article is headlined, “Ex-Justice: Arkansas Supreme Court Voted To Strike Gay Marriage Ban, Withheld Ruling.” It is based on an oral history interview in July with former Justice Donald Corbin, posted to the court’s website. He says, according to the article, that the court did not issue its ruling on the ban on marriage for same-sex couples, “waiting instead until the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nationwide in June.”
Corbin said he wished had proceeded to find in contempt a state senator who authored a resolution, adopted by the Arkansas Legislative Council, that urged the high court to overturn a lower-court judge’s decision finding the state ban unconstitutional (see Gavel Grab). Here is a reaction from state Sen. Jason Rapert, who sponsored the resolution:
“I have no ill will towards Judge Corbin and hope he enjoys retirement, but after reading his comments regarding the same-sex marriage issue, he should be the poster-child for judicial term limits and the reason we need to properly vet candidates for judicial positions in our state.” He added, “The people of Arkansas and the people of the United States are fed up with judicial activism, rulings that degrade decency and morality in our country, and judges who have no respect for the co-equal branches of government.”
Corbin said he had received some threats about the case. “But I’d had those down through the years. What I worried about was whether my family was in danger in any way.”