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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Vacancy On Supreme Court 2017 - Round 2: Report On Interview #2, Rep. Thomas W. Washburne

This is Prof. Joel Schumm's report on the 2nd interview of Round 2

Rep. Thomas W. Washburne, Evansville (photo) (application) (first interview)

In response to a question from Chief Justice Rush about one case holding he would defend for the rest of his life, Rep. Washburne paused and said he was drawing a blank. Chief Justice Rush followed up, asking about a case that affects what he does as a legislator, he discussed the importance of medical malpractice cases as well as the ESPN cases dealing with university police forces.

In response to a question from Ms. Kitchell about one change he could make to the Indiana Constitution, Rep. Washburne said nothing jumps out as “defective” but that issues could be clarified.

When asked what Judge Dillin (for whom he clerked) would write in a letter of recommendation for him, Rep. Washburne said Judge Dillin cared about accessibility and was skilled at explaining the law. Rep. Washburne commented on his skill at explaining complex matters to non-lawyers - Judge Dillin’s opinions were short but informative.

In response to a question from Mr. Berger about replacing Justice Rucker, the only African-American on the Court, and his views of the two African-American justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, Rep. Washburne said he admired the “courage and challenge” of Justice Marshall but his judicial philosophy is similar to Justice Thomas.

In response to a question from Ms. Long about confronting a legal issue that conflicted with his personal beliefs, Rep. Washburne said as corporate counsel he is sometimes asked to handle matters differently than he might want to personally address them. When lawyers are working for someone, they need to accept that. In the context of government, we need to be loyal to our Constitution and statutes.

In response to a question from Chief Justice Rush about reviewing administrative decisions (mentioned federal Chevron deference), Rep. Washburne said agencies are executive branch officers and entitled to deference. When asked if more or less deference should be given, Rep. Washburne said when due process or constitutional rights are at stake deference is less appropriate. Rep. Washburne said many perceive that ALJs are too cozy with the agencies, a topic of hearings last year. He said the issue was postponed because there was a new administration, but the issue would come back.

When asked about the greatest obstacle to justice, Rep. Washburne said “people are people.” He said we cannot all be as magnificent as the buildings we occupy, and checks and balances are essential.

Mr. Feighner read from the recent Indiana Law Review survey article of types of cases heard by the Court last year and asked how Rep. Washburne would approach such a wide variety of issues, Rep. Washburne discussed the preparation of his background and said our system accounts for the inability of justices to be experts in all areas by requiring briefs.

In response to a question about the Indiana Constitutional provision that says penal laws should be founded on provisions of rehabilitation and not retribution, Rep. Washburne discussed the importance of HEA 1006, which helped bring more proportionate sentences, which included lower penalties for some drug offenses.

In response to a question about the diversity that will be lost with Justice Rucker’s retirement and how he viewed the Black Lives Matter movement, Rep. Washburne said “who could dispute” that black lives matter and applauds the tenacity of the movement. He may not agree with all their principles but hopes they will be more patient in waiting for some of the investigations. Even when he disagrees with activists, he applauds them.

When asked by Mr. Young about his last “random act of kindness,” he said he encouraged his daughter to give the food she took out of a restaurant to someone outside who said he was hungry. He emphasized the importance of treating people with kindness and respect.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 18, 2017 11:07 AM
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Court - 2017