As a licensed and native V.I. attorney, I have had the rare pleasure and honor of working with, and learning from, Judge Thomas Moore during his lengthy and honorable V.I. private practice. Then, from the distance that a judicial position demands, my respect and admiration for this quiet, hard-working, humble and highly intellectual man continued to grow.
I am, rather plainly, an ardent admirer of this remarkable man who has served the people of the V.I. so well. I cannot read, without being compelled to comment, of the poor treatment he is presently receiving from Mr. [Holland] Redfield and the V.I. Republican Party. Judge Moore is compelled by judicial restraint from commenting on the sad irony of the situation. Happily, I am not.
Over the past 11 years on the federal bench, Judge Moore has wrestled with politically thorny and legally complicated matters with professional aplomb and fairness to the law, the equities of the case, and the best interests of the V.I. and its residents. In dealing with the V.I. government and other indigenous matters, Judge Moore has demonstrated his great familiarity with cherished local traditions, as well as limiting local conditions, by fashioning rulings and remedies that are "workable" and "realistic," but that also are consistent with statutory law and binding case precedent. Successfully navigating these waters is a task that requires immense skill and experience.
It is no surprise that Judge Moore has continued to demonstrate on the bench the same personal integrity and intellectual ability that commanded him widespread respect in private practice. But he has surprised some by revealing his possession, in abundance, of a quality that is rarely required in private practice, yet which is essential to achieving true judicial status and to creating an untainted (and, therefore, reliable for future generations) judicial legacy.
This estimable quality is courage. Courage to make rulings that are "right" for the people as a whole and for the right reasons. Decisions that are free of improper influence of any kind, and that are made without regard for economic, political, career or other, personal gain. Decisions that are truly "fair" and that create "good law." This is what a "good judge" must do.
It was the honorable Mr. Redfield and the formerly more vibrant V.I. Republican Party that successfully lobbied for Judge Moore's nomination to the bench not so very long ago. Since his appointment, Judge Moore has more than lived up to his end of the deal by proving himself a worthy judge.
Ironically, however, in order to fulfill his solemn pledge and duties as a judge, and in order to uphold the best interests of residents of the V.I., it is no secret that Judge Moore has been compelled to make certain — legally and equitably sound — rulings that were adverse to the already enormous but further ambitious economic and business interests of Mr. Redfield's employer, Innovative Communication Corp.
It would be a sad comment on the state of the V.I. Republican Party, and on the integrity and independence (or lack thereof) of the few members who remain active, if it allows this time-honored party — as well as themselves by association or passivity — to patently become a crude vehicle for one man's commercial interests.
What's more important? Good judges, or personal politics? It is one thing for a political party, for a variety of reasons, to suffer periods of low membership enrollment, or low support at the polls. It is quite another — and a terrible disservice to the people whose interests it professes to champion — for the Republican Party to "sell out" its morals, scruples and proud tradition of supporting the causes of Virgin Islanders to the mercenary and vulgar interests of one man.
There is no valid reason for the Republican Party not to continue to support and endorse the same candidate that it promoted 11 years ago, Thomas Moore. In fact, it is just the opposite. The failure to support him would be very revealing about who controls the Republican Party and what the party's goals are. Are those goals lofty and in the best interests of the public, or are they personal and crass?
When Mr. Redfield is questioned about his party's position on the judicial nomination process, rather than coyly and disingenuously responding that his boss is not involved in politics at the national level, if he and the Republican Party wish to begin to garner popular support, they will need to demonstrate truth, candor, faithfulness to stated goals and morals, and consistency of political course and political purpose. And that course and purpose will never gain support so long as is so crassly commingled with personal gain and interest.
Are the leaders of the Republican Party truly interested in the public good, or is that just a term to throw around at election time? Are the leaders of the Republican Party going to be allowed to sacrifice the reputation and future of the party in order to serve the interests of good old numero uno, or is there a broader purpose to the party?
As they say, actions speak louder than words. Judge Moore's actions speak volumes about his high character, huge intellectual ability, integrity and courage, and vast experience. If the Republican Party is to be viewed as a champion of Virgin Islanders and Virgin Islands interests, it is apparent that it should again get behind this rare man and uplift him for the selfless champion that he is.
If, on the other hand, Mr. Redfield and his party members continue to put on a publicly non-committal face, all while transparently sponsoring another untested, less-experienced, "new" horse in the judicial race, the conclusion will be sadly clear: the Republican Party is not being operated by leaders who stick with what they start (unless there is good reason to change), who do not champion and reward integrity and who, in general, are willing to place personal interests ahead of the best interests of the Virgin Islands. (I do not intend to question in any fashion the sterling qualifications of Mr. Curtis Gomez, but his qualifications are not the point; the integrity and purposes of the Republican Party are what are at issue here.)
It will take an act of Congress (please take note, Madam Congresswoman) for our V.I. federal judges to have the career protection afforded their peers in other jurisdictions. Until that time, we can only hope that the active inner circles of the Democratic and Republican Parties do not allow individual personal agendas to rule the day, but, instead, recognize the critical role played by judges as they interpret and help define the web of legal (and, less visibly, moral) obligations that members of an "advanced" society must respect and perform in order that all members of that society may prosper and have the opportunity to pursue happiness.
Both Judge Moore and the people of the Virgin Islands deserve better treatment that they have received thus far from Mr. Redfield and the Republican Party. It is my prediction, be it ever so humble, that the handling of this highly visible judicial nomination will dictate the resurgence or the continued decline of the V.I. Republican Party. Is this a party run by the people for the people, or is it a thinly disguised personal interest group?
It would be an enormous mistake for the V.I. Republican Party to underestimate the clarity of vision of the "common man" and the universal rejection of people and groups who spout moral platitudes, but then proceed to blatantly commingle personal agendas with party goals, and who undermine and backstab those who, like Judge Moore, demonstrate real morals, real heart and real guts.
J. Brion Morrisette
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