Scott Wants A New Slate Of Candidates For Vermont's Supreme Court Vacancy

Jan 9, 2017

Gov. Phil Scott says he hasn’t even looked at the list of six names sent to Gov. Peter Shumlin last month as possible replacements for outgoing Supreme Court Justice John Dooley. But Scott says he wants to start the nomination process from scratch nonetheless.

It’s the latest twist in what has become a complicated quest to appoint Dooley’s replacement, and one that will reopen the search for Vermont’s newest member of the Supreme Court bench.

The state’s Judicial Nominating Board had already interviewed applicants for the position, and forwarded the names of six possible candidates to then-Gov. Shumlin last month. 

Last week, however, the Vermont Supreme Court said Shumlin wasn’t within his authority to appoint Dooley’s replacement. And the newly sworn-in Scott says he wants the nominating board to start the process from scratch, and send him a new slate of candidates.

“There are some that I have heard that maybe didn’t put their names forward because they weren’t sure of the process, whether it was going to be challenged, and decided not to, so I’d like to see them open that up,” Scott said Monday.

With nearly four months remaining until Dooley’s term expires, on April 1, Scott said Monday that he’d like to see the nominating board “open that back up to take more requests … from those who want to put their names forward that might not have before.”

Shumlin had sought to name Dooley’s replacement in the waning hours of his final term in office. But House Minority Leader Don Turner filed a challenge in Supreme Court, saying the outgoing governor couldn’t fill a vacancy that wouldn’t technically exist until after months after he left office.

The Supreme Court ruled in Turner’s favor.

With the start of the new legislative biennium comes the reconstitution of the Judicial Nominating Board. And the 11-person panel that conducts the second search for Dooley’s replacement will likely have a different membership than the board that sent Shumlin a list of candidates from which to choose.