Ritter Supreme Court pick Marquez draws predictable heat from right

Lame duck governor appoints lesbian Latina to Colorado Supreme Court. To some, that is a good thing on its face. To others, not so much.

Gov. Bill Ritter introduces new Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica Marquez Wednesday.

Clear the Bench Colorado came out Wednesday with a diatribe accusing Gov. Ritter of making his selection of Deputy Colorado Attorney General Monica Marquez based primarily on politics as opposed to qualifications and experience: “Ritter’s selection will only serve to further erode public confidence in a Colorado Supreme Court already damaged by a decade of highly politicized anti-constitutional rulings.”

Clear the Bench says there were more qualified candidates and that Marquez may have trouble overcoming a “lifetime habit of political activism and advocacy.”

The blogosphere was also alive with less than kind commentary.

The governor’s office today responded to criticism of the pick.

“The governor selected Monica because of her experience and skill as an analytical and independent thinker who holds a deep respect for the rule of law and the role it plays in the everyday lives of Coloradans,” Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said in an email.

“Criticisms that she’s been an ‘activist’ or ‘advocate’ are ridiculous. Of course she’s an advocate — she advocates on behalf of her clients. She’s a lawyer. That’s her job, a job that most judges have done before becoming a judge.

“Attacks on her ethnicity or sexual orientation are so far out of bounds they don’t deserve a response,” Dreyer said.

Marquez was not available for an interview, but she made these comments Wednesday at the press conference where she was introduced:

“My life has been a remarkable journey so far. I grew up in a multicultural family in Grand Junction; I was immersed in a foreign country as a 16-year-old exchange student; I was blessed with the opportunity to be the first in my family to attend Stanford and Yale; I lived and worked in the inner cities of Camden and Philadelphia. And ultimately, I made my way back to Colorado, where I have spent my legal career in both private and public law practice. Along the way, I have learned many life lessons, and I have worked with and for people of all backgrounds: rich and poor, educated and uneducated. I believe this wealth of life experiences has allowed me to view the world from multiple vantage points, and my journey thus far has instilled in me a healthy balance of perspective.

“I am deeply honored to be appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court. I look forward to serving the state of Colorado in this new capacity, and I especially look forward to getting to know my fellow justices and working collaboratively with each of them. I promise to work very hard. I also promise that I will humbly bring what life wisdom I have collected to the table, along with a collegial spirit, a good sense of humor, an open mind, and most importantly, a deep reverence for the rule of law. I recognize that I have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility, and I will do my absolute best to serve the state of Colorado with honor and integrity.”

Colorado Republican Attorney General John Suthers could not be reached for comment, but issued this statement: “Gov. Ritter was faced with a difficult decision between three highly qualified candidates for the state’s highest court. In selecting Deputy Attorney General Marquez, the governor has made an excellent appointment to the Colorado Supreme Court,” Suthers said. “Monica is one of the brightest attorneys I have worked with in my long career in public service. Her clear, concise writing and sharp legal mind will make her an outstanding addition to the Colorado Supreme Court.”

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About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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