From the formation of our earliest constitution, the Fundamental Orders, until the very end of the 19th Century, the legislature had supreme power in Connecticut. Both the executive and the judicial were de facto subordinates to the General Assembly, although the flawed 1818 constitution technically had separated and equalized them. Only an 1897 court case finally banished that notion for good.
I couldn't blame Sens. Andrew McDonald and Michael Lawlor if they were a little nostalgic, right about now.
Former Chief Justice William J. Sullivan does not have to honor a subpoena to appear before a legislative hearing to answer questions about his decision to withhold release of a controversial ruling to benefit a colleague.
Such an appearance would have violated the constitutional separation of powers doctrine, a Superior Court judge ruled Monday. (Tuohy)
Yes, John Rowland was compelled by the Supreme Court to obey a legislative subpoena in 2004 (his resignation short-circuited that), but that was related to an impeachment investigation. This is not. Yet.
After the hearing, Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the judiciary committee, was asked about the prospects of an impeachment inquiry. "It didn't seem like something we were considering yesterday," Lawlor said. "We have to talk to our colleagues about what is the right approach."
Sen. Andrew McDonald, Lawlor's co-chairman, added: "This decision seems to push the legislature toward something we wouldn't do otherwise. ... The whole investigation centers around Justice Sullivan's conduct and state of mind." (Tuohy)
It isn't a constitutional crisis yet, I don't think. But this would have been much better had Sullivan simply agreed to testify voluntarily, like other members of the judiciary had.
Tuohy, Lynne. "Jurist Need Not Testify." Hartford Courant 27 June, 2006.