Lynch pushes Council to approve new justices

by Gavin Huang | 11/29/10 11:00pm

New Hampshire's Executive Council held hearings Monday for Governor John Lynch's selections for vacancies in the state Supreme Court. Among the nominees are Supreme Court Justice Linda Dalianis who is poised to replace Chief Justice John Broderick and become the state's first female chief justice and Superior Court Chief Justice Robert Lynn.

If appointed, the two justices could influence the direction of a suit brought by seven alumni against the Board of Trustees in November 2008. Two months ago, the College, the Association of Alumni and former member of the College Board of Trustees Todd Zywicki '88 filed briefs with the N.H. Supreme Court in the lawsuit, which was dismissed by Grafton County Superior Court Judge Timothy Vaughan in January.

The lawsuit is the second legal challenge to the Board's September 2007 decision to increase the size of the Board by adding eight Board-selected trustees without increasing the number of alumni-elected trustees. The plaintiffs argue is a violation of an 1891 agreement that allegedly requires the Board to maintain parity between the two types of trustees. The plaintiffs argue that the 1891 agreement is legally binding, following suit with previous groups of alumni.

The College's appellate brief requests that the state Supreme Court uphold Vaughan's dismissal of the case.

Lynch, a Democrat, is working to push the nomination process though before the new all-Republican Council takes over in January, The Boston Globe reported. After a statewide Republican sweep of the midterm elections, the party will hold a majority in both houses of the state legislature.

"The vacancies are there now, and it is up to me and the Executive Council to deal with those vacancies and we're doing that in the ordinary course of governing," Lynch said in the New Hampshire Union Leader. "These are outstanding nominees, and I'm very proud to bring them forward."

Executive councilors told the Union Leader that they plan to vote on the two state Supreme Court seats on Dec. 8. Two Republican members of the newly elected council criticized the process, saying the vote should occur after the new council is sworn in.

"[Lynch] is in power, and he can do it," Republican councilor-elect David Wheeler said. "But he'd better remember he's going to have to work with the five of us for the next two years. It remains to be seen whether this is a wise decision on his part."

Lynch has already begun reaching out to Republican legislators, according to the Concord Monitor.

Republican leaders in the state Senate and House said that Lynch will have to cooperate on a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to allocate education aid to the neediest communities, the Monitor reported. They said there will also be significant compromise on budget cuts.