March 8, 2017

Bye Votes to Reappoint Supreme Court Justice Palmer

WEST HARTFORD—State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford) today cast an important vote to re-appoint State Supreme Court Justice Richard N. Palmer to another eight-year term on Connecticut’s highest court following a close and mostly party-line 19-16 vote in the state Senate.

Sen. Bye argued on the floor of the Senate that Justice Palmer had used solid constitutional and judicial precedent in arriving at his decisions, and was not engaged in ‘judicial advocacy’ as some of the more conservative Republican members of the state Senate had argued.

“Justice Palmer confirmed my Constitutional right to marry the person that I love back in October 2008, when he wrote the majority opinion in ‘Kerrigan vs. Commissioner of Public Health.’ Tracey and I were the first same-sex couple legally married in Connecticut,” Sen. Bye told her colleagues. “The Kerrigan decision was a 4-3 decision. Some people blame Justice Palmer—since he wrote the majority opinion—for forcing his personal views on the State of Connecticut and allowing for marriage equality in Connecticut. But he and the Court made their decision based on solid Constitutional and Judicial precedent—not on personal opinion, not on prejudice.”

Sen. Bye read from Justice Palmer’s 2008 Kerrigan decision, which cited (among other sources) the U.S. Supreme Court cases of ‘Loving v. Virginia’ and ‘Brown v. Board of Education.’

Sen. Bye also cited a recent editorial in The Connecticut Law Tribune in support of Justice Palmer’s re-confirmation, noting their argument that “the criticism and questioning of Justice Palmer’s qualifications to be a jurist based on his honest, good-faith rulings, on a matter of Constitutional interpretation, should be shocking and abhorrent to all lawyers.”

“I am not a lawyer,” Sen. Bye concluded. “I am just an average citizen looking for discretion, consideration, intelligence and good judgement—based on the sound application of law—from my state Supreme Court Justices. Justice Richard Palmer has that in spades.”

Justice Palmer was born in Hartford, graduated from Wethersfield High School and received his Bachelor of Arts degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from Trinity College in Hartford in 1972, where he captained the tennis and squash teams and was named a first-team All-American in squash. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut School of Law, with high honors, in 1977, and was a member of the Connecticut Law Review.

Justice Palmer was an associate with the Hartford law firm of Shipman & Goodwin from 1978 to 1980. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney for Connecticut from 1980 to 1982 and again from 1987 to 1990. Justice Palmer served as United States’ Attorney for Connecticut from 1991 to 1993, and was appointed Chief State’s Attorney for Connecticut in 1991. He was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1993.