Scott to consider eight potential Supreme Court justices

MONTPELIER — The state’s Judicial Nominating Board sent eight names to Gov. Phil Scott Tuesday for his consideration as replacements for a retiring Vermont Supreme Court justice.

Scott, a Republican, will select a replacement for Justice John Dooley after the Supreme Court rejected former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s attempt to name a new a justice. Shumlin, who left office on Jan. 5, had attempted to name Dooley’s successor, even though Dooley is not scheduled to leave the bench until April 1.

Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley

Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley

Dooley announced last September that he was not seeking retention and would leave the bench when his term expires on April 1. Last fall, Shumlin called on the Judicial Nominating Board to forward him the names of well qualified candidates, as laid out in state statute, when a vacancy becomes known.

The Judicial Nominating Board, chaired by Republican Sen. Peg Flory, complied with Shumlin’s request. But House Majority Leader Don Turner and Republican Sen. Joe Benning, who at the time was the Senate minority leader, filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging Shumlin’s authority to nominate a new justice.

The Supreme Court, including Dooley, ruled unanimously that the vacancy would not occur until after Shumlin left office, and that he could not extend his appointment authority beyond the end of his gubernatorial term, leaving the pending vacancy to be filled by Scott.

Scott’s office said Tuesday that the Judicial Nominating Board forwarded eight potential justices for his consideration. The list includes two new potential justices in addition to the six the board sent to Shumlin. Scott had asked the board to reopen the search after the Supreme Court ruling and after he was sworn into office on Jan. 5.

Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said the governor will announce his nominee after reviewing each potential candidate.

“He will thoroughly review and consider each of those names, so there is no time frame in mind. It will be dependent on the length of that review process,” Kelley said.

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