GOP says Raimondo breaking law by ignoring its picks for judicial nominating panel – News – providencejournal.com


GOP says Raimondo breaking law by ignoring its picks for judicial nominating panel - News - providencejournal.com

PROVIDENCE — House GOP Leader Blake Filippi says Gov. Gina Raimondo’s refusal so far to appoint any one of the people of color he has nominated to the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission is a violation of state law.

Filippi said he has provided the governor with two lists since July 6 that include the names of a total of six potential appointees.

Among them: Ann Clanton, the one-time executive director of the Rhode Island Republican Party; David de la Cruz, the husband of Republican state Rep. Jessica de la Cruz; and Block Island Assistant Town Manager Shirlyne Gobern.

Filippi said he has gotten “no meaningful response” from Democrat Raimondo’s staff, which has not yet responded to Journal inquiries about the issues Filippi raises in his role as leader of the nine-member Republican bloc within the 75-member House.

Filippi and other House Republicans laid out his concerns at a news conference in the park across the street from the courthouse on South Main Street on Thursday.

“Not only is it unlawful, it is immoral,’’ said Filippi, surrounded by a half dozen of his House Republican colleagues.

The governor’s office has not yet responded.

His complaint centers most basically on the state law that spells out appointments to the commission responsible for screening, interviewing and recommending candidates for open judgeships, including the current opening on the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

The law requires the governor to pick from lists of nominees from the House speaker, the Senate president and the minority leaders in the House and Senate. The provision at the heart of Filippi’s argument says:

“The minority leader of the House of Representatives shall submit to the governor a list of at least three members of the public.”

The law says “no person shall be appointed at any time to serve more than one term,’’ except in limited circumstances. It also says: “The governor and the nominating authorities … shall exercise reasonable efforts to encourage racial, ethnic, and gender diversity within the commission.”

“We wholeheartedly concur with the need to diversify our bench with highly qualified members of the minority community … including our Supreme Court,’’ and the effort should begin with Raimondo following the mandates for commission appointments, Filippi said.

Until this summer, Filippi said, the Judicial Nominating Commission included no person of color.

He credited Raimondo with the midsummer appointment of lawyer-lobbyist Leonard Lopes, a Black person of Cape Verdean descent, to the commission.(Lopes has since told The Journal that the appointment was subsequently withdrawn, because the seat is reserved for a member of the public who is not a lawyer.)

Filippi said Raimondo’s disregard of the nominees he has sent over as potential replacements for Scott Rabideau, a commission member whose term expired on June 15, 2015, defies the law.

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