The Utah Senate Republican Caucus needs to explain to Utah voters why it scuttled the nomination of Ogden's Catherine Conklin to the 2nd District Court Bench.
Conklin, a respected judge who was appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert to succeed retiring 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon, passed a Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee by a 3-1 vote. At that point, her nomination should have eventually moved to the whole Senate floor. Instead, in a session closed to the public, Republican senators decided that her nomination would die. As the Standard-Examiner reported, "Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, wouldn't expand on the caucus discussion except to describe Conklin's nomination from the full Senate as "the right thing."
Apparently, "the brethren" have spoken. What gall, what arrogance from Christensen, who is clearly a legislator who needs a primer on open-government.
But he's not the only one who merits blame. Why is Sen. Scott Jenkins, who complains about the process, enabling the secrecy to continue? What is the position of Sen. Stuart Reid, Republican from Ogden? This kind of government in the dark thrives because fellow legislators don't have the independence and courage to speak out against it.
It's about time someone did. The public needs to understand exactly why a qualified judicial nominee who had passed a committee vote was nixed without explanation. As some legislators have coyly hinted, her handling of the Aubree Jo Anderson custody hearing, led to opposition. Anderson, 3, was killed in a single-car accident in 2011. Her mother, Brandi Stilke, is in prison because she had drugs in her system while driving the car. Conklin had granted both parents joint custody of Anderson.
If that's the case, fine, let it be debated on the Senate floor. But the dark force Senate Republicans are clearly in the wrong by hiding the debate from the taxpayers.