The move to appoint Tracy Thorne-Begland is now drawing the ire of Republican leaders who had put up the roadblock weeks ago to keep the gay man from the appointment.
“We are surprised and disappointed that these judges did not afford the actions of the General Assembly due deference in coming to their decision. Our disappointment has nothing to do with the particular candidate in question, but rather reflects our feeling that in this case, the Richmond Circuit Court is not simply filling a judicial vacancy, but is substituting their judgment for that of the General Assembly and superseding the General Assembly’s vested constitutional authority to choose judges,” read a statement attributed to Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell (R-Stafford), House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Deputy Majority Leader C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), Majority Caucus Chairman Timothy Hugo (R-Prince William) and Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-Manassas).
The failure of the House to appoint anyone for the judgeship left a constitutional opening for the move on Thursday by the Richmond City Circuit Court.
The appointment is temporary, and the General Assembly can reverse it when it convenes again next year.
“The Circuit Courts may fill a vacancy with the candidate of their choice to ensure that the court will function properly until the General Assembly meets again and can elect a judge for a full term. The authority given to the Circuit Courts was not intended to function as an appeals process for candidates who have been previously rejected by the General Assembly. To place Mr. Thorne-Begland on the bench notwithstanding that rejection is to reach beyond the intended bounds of the Circuit Court’s authority to make such recess appointments,” the statement from the GOP leaders continued.