Michelle MacDonald, the Republican nominee for the Minnesota Supreme Court who neglected to disclose her upcoming trial for a DWI, is coming under fire for promising GOP officials that she would base her opinions on Biblical principles.
During a speech she gave at the Minnesota GOP convention in Rochester on May 30, 2014, she told the delegates that “when judges used to enter the courtroom, they would hold a Bible over their head, like this,” and then held a Bible over her head.
“In the words of George Washington,” she continued, “it is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” According to Mount Vernon Library, that spurious quotation is “frequently misattributed to Washington, particularly in regards to his farewell address of 1796.”
She concluded her speech by saying, “God bless you, God bless your children, God bless your families, and let’s all ask God to bless America again.”
The Friendly Atheist blog compared her to Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who recently made dubious legal claims based on his interpretation of the Christian Bible.
After MacDonald’s speech, the state GOP chair asked if anyone supported her candidacy, and many of the delegates applauded. No one rose, however, to object to it, so she was made the nominee despite her upcoming trial for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Since information about that arrest became public, a recording made by MacDonald of the Judicial Election Committee that initially approved her nomination was acquired by The Star-Tribune. In it, chair Doug Season presented McDonald with a large file consisting of research the MNGOP had done on her.
MacDonald flipped through the material and said, “that package represents me well.” Seaton clearly had concerns, especially about an incident in 2013 in which, while representing a client, a judge had her removed from the courtroom and placed in a cell.
According to the documents, MacDonald was handcuffed, placed in a wheelchair, and then returned to the courtroom, where she continued to argue on her client’s behalf. She was, however, jailed for multiple days, though never charged.
Seaton told her he was concerned “that we’re going to have a situation where the party’s endorsement process is going to be held up to ridicule, and you’re going to be held up to ridicule, and attacked in a campaign as not having judicial [comportment] and not being neutral and being a little bit of a wild woman.”
“How on Earth,” he asked, “can a person who is a zealous advocate, maybe pushing the line, be suitable for a judicial position? And how is that going to reflect on the party’s endorsement process, the other statewide candidates…is that going to be a problem? How are you going to respond to it?”
MacDonald refused to answer Seaton’s questions directly, stating only that his concerns were valid.
The committee then debated, eventually deciding to recommend her for the nomination.
Watch video of McDonald’s speech at the MNGOP convention below.
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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