To: Sen. Weiler, T.,
Subject: Judicial Appointee: Margaret Plane
I write today to request that the Senate do their duty and “consider and render a decision on each judicial appointment”—including a decision for the appointment of Margaret Plane. See Utah Const., Art. VIII, § 8(3). The Utah Constitution does not give the Senate an opportunity to pick and choose who they will consider for a judicial appointment after a nomination by the Governor. Rather, the Utah Constitution states that the Senate “shall” consider and render a decision. As drafters of statute, I would expect that you know that “shall” is interpreted as must. Accordingly, the Senate must “consider and render a decision on each judicial appointment within 60 days.”
I understand that the Senate, through the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee, is refusing to schedule a hearing for Margaret Plane. Simply ignoring her appointment is unacceptable. Not only is this failure in violation of Article VIII, § 8(3), it is in utter disregard to the constitutional directive that requires the Senate to approve judges “upon consideration of fitness for office without regard to any partisan political consideration.” See Utah Const., Art. VIII, §8(4). When being sworn in as a Senator, you each promised to uphold the Utah Constitution. You are failing to do that now.
If there is a concern regarding Margaret Plane, whether it be her record, prior experience, or judicial temperament, these concerns should be aired publicly instead of part of some back-room conspiracy. Ms. Plane should be given the opportunity to address the Committee and answer any and all questions and concerns, whether from the Senators themselves or in response to public comment. Governor Herbert has made some impressive appointments to the bench during his tenure as governor. His appointment of Ms. Plane deserves respect and due consideration.
While I believe Ms. Plane will be an asset to the judiciary, I am not asking for your vote. I trust that you will do your due diligence and will find Ms. Plane to be fit for the office of which she has been appointed. Rather, I am simply asking you each to do what is right, follow the law, and schedule a hearing as soon as reasonably practicable.
Stacy J. McNeill