July 6, 2018
Honorable Asa Hutchinson Via Email and First Class Mail
Governor – State of Arkansas
State Capitol, Suite 250
Little Rock, AR 72201 Re: Issue 1 – “To oppose or not”
Dear Governor Hutchinson,
Getting quickly to the point, every opportunity I have had to hear you speak and to watch your actions in public office, have impressed me with your willingness to talk common sense. The solution may not always be apparent, but you always seem willing to acknowledge the nuance of the challenge.
On the subject of so-called "tort reform" (Issue 1), I read with interest that you recently observed that the proposal is "imperfect" but you had not yet decided whether to support or oppose the issue. While I am confident I cannot add to your thinking on the subject, I do believe it helps to reinforce an idea that is core to you and me. Not all ideas are equal and not all values are core.
You believe in the wisdom of the founding fathers who gave us three distinct branches of government. You recognize and have commented publicly that the legislature has previously encroached on the executive branch's rule-making responsibility for its executive branch agencies. To date, you have been able to navigate around those limitations, but I feel certain you believe such encroachments to be inappropriate.
To a much greater extent, I would urge that the apparent "power grab" (as per Democrat Gazette opinion of May 24) over the judicial branch risks making this third branch of government no more than an agency of the legislature. While I regret missing your comments at the recent Arkansas Bar Annual meeting, I was able to attend a forum of legislators on the topic. What I heard from one was first an assurance that "we don't want to control the courts", followed by an admission that (paraphrasing) "we want to stop the courts from finding our legislation unconstitutional". In my entire time as an attorney and former judge, I have never seen such an effort to undermine the judicial branch of our government.
You are a respecter of the law and you believe in your core, I sense, that a co-equal branch of government - the judiciary - is important to the future of our state and welfare of its citizens.
I respectfully ask and encourage you to publicly share your core belief on this matter.
Very Truly Yours,