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Dickson says consensus among justices on next chief unlikely

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Before Brent Dickson was selected chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court more than two years ago, his fellow justices came one by one before the Judicial Nominating Commission and said he was the man for the job.

As he prepares to step down as chief in coming months, Dickson said he doubts that will happen this time around when the commission chooses his successor.

“My guess is it’s not likely the other justices among themselves would agree who should be the leader,” Dickson said.

Dickson, who chairs the commission that will select his successor, said he doesn’t like to characterize the process as a competition, and any of the justices is capable of leading the court.

“I don’t see it so much as a contest as what I’ve seen so far is my colleagues are willing to serve but not aggressively seeking to win,” he said.

“They are approaching this as an opportunity for service, not something that’s colored with personal aggrandizement.”

Dickson announced in June he will step down as chief justice sometime before Sept. 1, and the commission is scheduled to meet Aug. 6 for public interviews with Justices Steven David, Mark Massa, Robert Rucker and Loretta Rush.

Dickson succeeded Randall Shepard, who presided over the court for the longest period in state history. Dickson, who’s served since 1986, was seen as providing continuity to a court that has added three justices – David, Massa and Rush – in less than four years.

Stepping down as chief but remaining on the court, Dickson said, will allow him to concentrate on writing opinions in his remaining time before he hits the mandatory retirement age of 75 in July 2016.

He said during his tenure, the chief justice’s work has been shared among all the justices.

“I’m frankly blessed to have great people to work with,” he said, noting the justices appointed in recent years “really jumped in the deep end since they came on the court.

“Each has had important responsibilities, and as a group we’ve discussed most of the major decisions that fall to the chief justice,” Dickson said. “It’s not going to come as a surprise or a complete new thing to any one of them.”

Indiana Lawyer readers have their own ideas of who they think will be the next chief justice. In a recent online poll on this topic, David emerged as the frontrunner – grabbing 40 percent of the votes. Rush came in second with 27 percent of the votes followed by Massa’s 22 percent. Rucker, who will be at the mandatory retirement age when his current term ends, received 10 percent of the votes.
 
 

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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