A kind third party bought me a seat yesterday at a function at the Alta Club called "Interpreting the Judicial Fitness Requirement under the Utah Constitution." Other than a whopper or two by Sen. Lyle Hillyard (R-Logan) and an occasional "B.S.-alert" from Rep. Kay McIff (R-Richfield), it was more of a makeout session. My notes are fuzzy, so these may not be exact quotes:
Moderator (President of the Utah Bar): "So, how about that 'fitness' requirement, huh? And note that my question did NOT mention Judge Hilder. No, I do not have Judge Hilder in mind at all."
Sen. Hillyard: "I assume that all judges appointed by Gov. Huntsman are qualified, so I have to dig deeper to find some way to torpedo them. Not that I've ever done that. And of course I'm not talking about Judge Hilder, either."
Rep. McIff: "When I was nominated for the Supreme Court, then Lt.-Gov. Olene Walker asked me if I was a conservative or a liberal. I told her to put me down as a 'reasonable.'" (True statement; McIff said this.)
Name-escapes-me: "I'm on a nominating committee. It's neat."
Bob Yeates with Gov. Huntsman's office: "All the governor wants in a judge is someone who is smart, charming, has good people skills, can run the hundred in 10 flat, plays the trumpet, wants to work for half pay, and doesn't mind getting grilled by a bunch of nincompoops about his divorce."
Chief Justice Christine Durham: "We love the senate. Please don't cut our funding."
Rep. McIff: "By the way, I think politics played a role in the Hilder confirmation."
Sen. Hillyard: "What?! Hilder who? I can't think of a single instance in which politics decided a judicial nomination."
Audience: (Looks around for lightning bolt.)
Sen. Hillyard: "We have lawyers at all our meetings to make sure that senators don't ask inappropriate things. Well, except the private meetings, of course, but we just talk about the Jazz at those. Really."
Justice Durham: "I think you're great, especially the way you fund things, but I was just wondering. I hear that the NRA had a poster up at a local gun show recently that said, 'We got Hilder - keep the faith.' What do you think about that? I like your tie."
Sen. Hillyard: "NRA? What's the NRA? I never talk to lobbyists, especially the State Bar, by the way, because nobody trusts that bunch, and heck, look at the time!"
And that is how you avoid an elephant in the room at the Alta Club.