Consider Jewish judges on Virginia Supreme Court

April 21, 2022

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The following letter was sent to Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and others earlier this month to highlight the fact that there has never been a Jewish judge on the Virginia Supreme Court.

April 13, 2022

The Honorable Glenn Youngkin

Governor

Office of the Governor

P.O. Box 1475

Richmond, VA 23218

 

Senator Creigh Deeds, Co-Chair

Senator John Edwards, Co-Chair

Senate Judiciary Committee

Pocahontos Building

900 E. Main Street

Richmond, VA 23219

 

Delegate Robert B. Bell

Chairman, House Courts of Justice Committee

House of Delegates

Pocahontas Building

900 E. Main Street

Richmond, VA 23219

 

Re:
Vacancies on the Virginia
Supreme Court

Dear Governor Youngkin, Senator Deeds, Senator Edwards and Delegate Bell:

We write as concerned citizens, members of the organized Jewish community and in some cases members of the Virginia State Bar with regard to the above-referenced vacancies.

We understand that after much deliberation two vacancies remain. Many fine candidates have been vetted, and many elected officials have repeated the sentiment that the Court should resemble the demographic make-up of the Commonwealth to the extent possible. This is a laudable concern that has advanced various candidates to the bench who might have been overlooked in the past. We hope that these considerations remain true today.

Not unmindful of the minefield that racial politics can promote, we call to your attention one simple fact which consistently gets ignored: In the 246-year history of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there has never been a Jewish member of the Virginia Supreme Court. The undersigned are non-partisan and at the same time concerned about quotas and religious litmus tests. We stand for the unassailable principle that such important appointments should only go to the most qualified candidates —whatever his or her race, gender or religion.

But at some point, the citizens of the Commonwealth must ask themselves as we do, why would a religious group which has been so essential for the administration of justice in Virginia be excluded from the Supreme Court bench for all of these centuries? Jewish lawyers and jurists were amongst the founders of the Commonwealth. They have served as advocates, circuit court judges, and elected representatives at all levels of state and local government. Without promoting any one jurist in particular, we note the fact that a significant number of sitting circuit court judges and senior attorneys are completely suited for approval. We ask today for their consideration.

Whether it be in connection with these vacancies or at some other point in time in the near future, this issue deserves attention. The Bible/Torah admonishes “tzedek, tzedek, tirdof”—“Justice, justice you shall pursue.” Deuteronomy 16:20 This is a foundational principle of the Jewish people. Based upon the Commonwealth’s regrettable history in this regard and the strength of so many qualified candidates, we now highly recommend your consideration of a Jewish jurist for one or both vacancies.

Respectfully yours,

Jeffrey F. Brooke

(Note: Twenty additional members of the community signed the letter.)

Letter to the Editor