Chuschcoff best choice of three solid candidates for high court

The Pierce County Superior Court judge's experience gives him the edge over the incumbent and an accomplished attorney.

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State Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Sanders has a staunch libertarian philosophy combined with his penchant for strict, literal interpretation of the text of laws. This often leaves him with contrary views, which is why he is seen as a maverick on the court.

That can, at times, be positive. It forces the court's eight other justices to view the law from a different perspective. Sanders has clearly made for more intellectually stimulating -- and very interesting -- debates at the Temple of Justice.

In addition, Sanders is devoted to protecting the rights of individuals. This, too, is a positive contribution to the court.

But the downside to Sanders' unbending approach is the real-life consequences it spawns. Justice is not always served and truth can be ignored. Criminals can be released from prison on legal technicalities. The role of government as an advocate for collective good of the people is, too often, not given proper consideration.

Sanders has two strong challengers -- Bryan Chushcoff and Charlie Wiggins -- for re-election in the Aug. 17 primary. If any of the candidates garner more than 50 percent of the vote that candidate will win the position.

We endorsed Sanders six years ago because we ultimately saw him doing more good than harm in his first nine years on the court. He gave the court some needed diversity.

Today, we see different needs for the court.

Justice Jim Johnson, elected six years ago, is a solid defender of individual rights but he does it while putting the issues in perspective.

But the high court will soon be without a justice who has served as a full-time Superior Court judge administering justice day in and day out.

This is a reason we see Bryan Chushcoff as the best choice for this Supreme Court position. We were impressed with Pierce County Superior Court Judge Chushcoff's understanding of the law and his heart-felt belief judges can't forget their decisions change lives -- for better or worse.

Chushcoff has seen the tears of joy and sorrow that have come from his decisions over his 14 years as a judge. He also talked about the importance of getting to the truth, not just weighing facts.

Chuschcoff is an impressive candidate.

So, too, is Wiggins, whose experience is mostly in private practice. He clearly has a sharp legal mind and has demonstrated a passionate commitment to his community. Wiggins' impressive history of public service rivals only his long list of legal accomplishment.

Wiggins would be a fine justice.

And, frankly, Sanders re-election would serve the people.

These three lawyers have outstanding legal minds and are well prepared -- albeit in somewhat different ways -- to be high court justices.

We recommend Chushcoff as the best choice of this strong field.

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