Home Virginia Senate blocks Republican effort to oust Supreme Court justice

Virginia Senate blocks Republican effort to oust Supreme Court justice


state-capitol2Democrats in the Virginia Senate – and a lone Republican – successfully blocked attempts by their Republican colleagues to oust Governor McAuliffe’s Supreme Court appointee, Justice Jane Marum Roush.

Justice Roush’s appointment to replace retiring Justice LeRoy F. Millette was formally announced on July 27. Republican leadership in the General Assembly waited until after the process was completed and the appointment announced before voicing any concerns, and proposed their own candidate for the position – Rossie D. Alston Jr.

Republican State Sen. John Watkins joined 19 Senate Democrats in voting down the effort to appoint Alston, with the tie-breaking vote from Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

Responses to Monday’s news from Senate Democrats:


  • Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus: “For the first time in memory, a sitting Supreme Court Justice has not been granted an interview, and she has not even been given the courtesy of a vote by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee. Why are we doing this? No one has suggested that she is not qualified. She has been lauded as a great jurist, she has the support of the Republican Chair of the House Courts of Justice Committee. We are about to embark on a road that we don’t want to go down. Right now, today, what’s being proposed is that we allow politics to dictate who the next Supreme Court justice is. This isn’t fair, this isn’t right, and this is unprecedented. “
  • Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), Democratic Leader in the Senate: “We’ve already got a highly qualified person on the Supreme Court in Justice Roush. I don’t practice law, so when the nomination came about I asked a number of legislators in this very chamber and got a number of glowing reports. Justice Roush is probably not only one of the brightest legal minds in the state, but one of the brightest people in the State of Virginia. There has not been one voice in favor of taking her off the bench outside certain members of this General Assembly. I have never heard or gotten so many comments from outside groups about how excellent this particular individual is. So why do we want to replace her? This doesn’t make a shred of sense other than politics.”
  • Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax): “Republican objections to Justice Roush’s appointment came at the last minute and on the fly. They had no process, they did no interviews, they posted no advertisements, they didn’t involve the public, they didn’t request input from all members of the General Assembly. It isn’t even clear whether they consulted their own Caucuses. And just today they refused to interview a sitting Justice for her own position. We all know she is extremely qualified and that she comes with the highest recommendations of all the bar associations and by the Fairfax delegation. We all know this has nothing to do with Justice Roush. That’s why it’s so unfair to her, and to the institutional integrity of the judiciary — and to our own process.”
  • Senator Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton): “Over the past week my colleagues and I have been inundated with letters, phone calls and emails attesting to what we already know. Justice Roush is the most qualified candidate for a position on Virginia’s Supreme Court. Justice Roush was selected in a fair and competitive process that was open to law makers and the public. She was selected based on her abilities, qualifications, and recommendations from legal professionals across the Commonwealth. There is no good reason why the General Assembly should fire this eminently qualified sitting member of the Supreme Court. Those trying to do so should at least have the decency to admit that they are doing so only to make a political point. The radical steps my colleagues are taking today are unprecedented in modern Virginia history.”



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