Compass: 2014 Al Quie Interview, Part 2

(soft clarinet music) – [Announcer] The following
program is a production of Pioneer Public Television. Major support for
Compass is provided by the ongoing support of
the Leo P. Flynn Estate of Milbank, South Dakota. Additional support is provided
by the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council,
promoting southwest Minnesota as a place rich
with opportunity. Come for the jobs,
stay for the lifestyle. More information
at SWMNPIC dot org. (gentle music) – Hello and welcome to Compass, a production of Pioneer
Public Television. I’m Les Heen, your
host for Compass, this is a weekly
discussion of public policy and important issues
facing our viewing area. This week, part two
of our interview with former Minnesota
governor, Al Quie. Our hosts for the
interview segment are Barry Anderson
and Robin Wolpert. Barry Anderson is
an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and he’s also the
host of Pioneer’s Your Legislators program. With this interview in 2014, Barry was joined by
a fellow board member of the Minnesota Supreme
Court Historical Society, Robin Wolpert. Here is part two
of that interview. – Welcome to an interview
with the 35th governor of the state of Minnesota,
the honorable Albert Quie. This program is brought to you
by Pioneer Public Television and by the Minnesota Supreme
Court Historical Society. We want to talk a
little bit here about the judicial selection
and election process. One of the things that you
decided as governor was that you were going to
approach this differently in terms of how
you picked judges. Can you tell our viewers
a little bit about how that process happened
and what happened there? – Well, when I realized I would have
a number of judges to pick, I’m not an attorney, how
in the world would I do it? And so, I was benefited by
chief justice Bob Sharon coming down to my office
and talked to me about it and there we talked and it
came that we ought to do is have a commission that
would appoint or that would nominate some people
for judgeships, so they would really evaluate
them and then I could pick out a three and make my decision,
and I wanted to make sure there was no politics involved, and so it had the understanding
that this is nonpartisan and I found out afterwards
from people who came and then told me their politics,
that they never would have tried to be a judge with
a Republican governor if it hadn’t been for that,
they realized I was a man of my word, and other people
said if they had to run for office, they never
would have done it too so the quality went up and
Randy Kelly then introduced the legislation to make it
law, what I had done before, a few years before that,
and so that’s the law and we did not put
the Supreme Court because we didn’t know
how that would work or the Court of Appeals
later and I wish now we had put the whole
works in there, but lot of governors have
used that same commission for their appointment for
the appellate system too. – Many of our viewers
may not be aware of Chief Justice
Sharon’s accomplishments, he served previously
as an associate justice and then appointed as chief
justice, a long record of public service in
Minnesota, but also very much in his earlier partisan
days, a Democrat. Did that factor into
your conversations with the chief justice at all? – No, just about what he
said, what he was attempting to do and I didn’t think if
there’s an ulterior motives on his part for that, ’cause
if it was ulterior motives, I suppose you could give
it over to the legislature to appoint and doing that. But he proved it again
when he left office. He came down and see me, he said, I want you to know,
I’m going to retire early so you can appoint me. He had that much confidence
that I would pick a person who is really
honorable and respectable and so Doug Amdall became
the next chief justice. – So let’s talk a little
bit about your Supreme Court appointments, you
had two, as I recall, it was three, I’m
sorry, yes, yes. Can you tell us a
little bit about, maybe about both
those appointments, Justice Coin and
Chief Justice Amdall. – Amdall, I mean, he
was so highly regarded and he came before the
people who advised me and all and let me tell you
just something here, Republican party was
upset with me, what I did. And the way I brought
them to my side was, if you, if I only
picked Republicans
and you did something wrong, you would like a
Republican judge to go before but if you were in the
right, you would want a fair and impartial judge no
matter what his party was. They understood that, and
so Judge Simanet came along and so I was looking
at him and all and she claims she
doesn’t remember it, but his wife wrote me
a letter and told me what a tremendous person he was. (laughs) And I figured, man, if his
wife thinks that much of him, he must be pretty good. (laughs) – So, and then, Justice Coin,
you appointed Justice Coin as well, tell us a
little bit about her. – Well, I was only getting
men as a recommendation and the nomination and so I
said, I want you to be sure you have at least one woman,
and so I said, tell me who is the best woman lawyer
in the state of Minnesota and they came up with
the name Jean Coin and so I asked Jean to come
in and see if she would apply and she said, oh, she
didn’t wanna do that and I said, I’m gonna ask you
as a favor to let your name be considered, and I don’t
know how she felt about that, but it could be, he needs a
woman on there so it looks right and so, I mean, she
was obviously the
best person appointed and so she’s the
only one that I asked when I appointed them,
to give me a promise. I said, I want you to promise
not to leave the court ’til you get to the age
of mandatory retirement. – Any particular reason
for asking that promise. – Well some people go on
and they’re on for awhile and if they’re really
good, we lose that person. It’s just like in the
mandatory short term, say six years or even
12 years for Congress. I think that we lose
some awfully good people so I looked around
Congress and I thought, I don’t think anybody who was
there over 20 years ought to be there but there’s
a lot of others, they gain in seniority,
so I figured with her, she would not get beyond the
stage where she gets doddery and so that’s why, when
you have a good person, and I just wanted to make
sure that wasn’t gonna happen. – There are of course
many actions out there for ways to select judges. But one of the options
that you did not favor and did not sign onto
was the minority report that called for a federal
model for state elections, where there’s
appointment, confirmation, either long terms
or lifetime terms. Instead, your approach was more
along the line of retention elections, can you tell
our viewers why you land where you do on that spectrum of independence
versus impartiality? – Well for 21 years, I watched
the United States Senate with judicial appointments and if you think you’re getting
away from politics on that, you’re fooling yourself,
and before the legislature, to see them bringing
their political power on whether this person
should be confirmed or not and on both sides,
can you imagine if the Minnesota State Senate
had gone like the House this time and we had that? Mark Dayton would
still be a governor. Think of the difficulty
he would have had. As the Republicans say, well
what difference does that make? But if it, just reverse that,
if a Republican governor, what a difficult
time he would have if he was like when I came
in and the DFL controlled both bodies of the legislature. It just doesn’t work. Politics is rampant in the legislative bodies,
it’s supposed to be, but surely it doesn’t use the
political parties to do it, but amongst the
people of the country, we trust people who
know what they’re doing. We gave them the vote. That is what we’re
about in this nation, trusting people when they, by
giving them the information and let them vote on it. – Before we get to the
commission for the preservation of an impartial judiciary,
but before we get to that, I just want to touch very
briefly on your appointment of Doug Amdall as Chief Justice. – Well he just came so
overwhelmingly recommended that you couldn’t help
but pay attention to him. And then in the
interview I had with him, I was confident he would
be fair and impartial and I never knew
his politics at all, never inquired about it, and
afterwards, I was surely glad that I did both of the
appointing him first and then appointing
him chief justice. – So let’s talk about
the citizens’ commission for the preservation of
an impartial judiciary. Otherwise as the
Quie Commission. Tell our viewers a little
bit about how you happened to get involved in that process. – You hadn’t appointed
all the people yet and so we did the appointment
system very fairly, you took organized labor,
corporations and business, Republican party, DFL
party, district appellate and the Supreme
Court members on that and various
organizations on that too who are involved with this. And one of the parts of it,
when we came to the retention elections and the evaluation,
then we went to the way that we would use retention
elections for all of them and looking at the various
states that that would be the case and then
we also thought, what’s the fairest way that
you can do the evaluation, and that was to divide
the evaluation group into three parts and the
governor would appoint eight of the 24 and the chair, the majority leader
and the speaker and the minority
leader of both bodies would then pick eight of them and then the Supreme Court
itself would pick eight of them. So the ones who people have
elected to go to office, the bipartisanship
would be there, because no matter how
the election turned out, there would be both,
from the legislature, both sides from the
legislature represented and since the governor
makes the appointments, he ought to have some voice
on who’s evaluating them so that’s what we did. – What was the problem you
were trying to address. In other words, why did the
Quie Commission even come into being and why were
you doing all this work thinking about how we
should select judges? – The courts had ruled
that nobody could speak on political
or legal issues when they ran for the job
as a judge or a justice and Greg Worsell took that all
the way to the Supreme Court and they ruled that if you’re
going to have contested elections, people ought
to be able to talk about political or
judicial questions that come up before them and so that’s what
we were faced with and then as the
judges looked at this and see, what are they gonna
be, thrown into partisan and hostile elections
more than they have and so I think that’s what
speared the Supreme Court members to decide, let’s
have a commission study this and see if we can’t do something
that now is even better than that, clause
five, I believe it was. – Governor Quie, looking
back at your time in the state legislature,
in the U.S. Congress, and as governor, your
reputation is one of bipartisan leader, of a moderate
kind of bent, and my question is, what
are some of the key moments in those institutions
where it really showed that you were able to lead
in a bipartisan manner? – There was one guy, John
Brattimas from Indiana, who we just battled each
other on these issues, just battled each other,
we were on TV together battling each other, and
here’s how extreme that became. There was an early
childhood education bill that went through our
committee, 34 to one, I was the one to vote against it and John said, Mr. Chairman,
I’m pulling this bill, I’m not going to the
floor without Al Quie, and he came and it was the
involvement with the parents and I talked to them,
we made the change, that’s the kind of
relationship, but it comes from looking into each other’s eyes, so when you, in all
facilities and everything, you reason so you look
into each other’s eyes because we communicate so
much non-verbally in that way. – What’s ahead for Governor
Quie in terms of public policy and issues that you’re
concerned about? – The worst crime we commit are the kids who don’t
achieve at school, that’s about half of our kids. But it’s such a high
percentage of people of color, that is wrong. There’s some efforts but I
just yesterday was to a meeting and they said the needle of
unachievement has not moved in 25 years, well I know, I watched the needle come
for the 25 years before that and I was horrified by it and there’s one way
that we can solve that, and that is every teacher of
elementary school children go to the locale of the parents. I mean, it’s a radical, I’d say, like they did in Ramsay
County for welfare workers in the 1930s, actually stay
overnight, dinner, sleep, have breakfast with the families
so they get to know them and because when you look
at caregivers and everything like that, the parent still
spends more time with a child during the week than
any caregiver does, so that interaction is there. And when you look at the
childcare and the DNA of both the father and the
mother and when the mother is providing all of the
protection and nourishment for the child in those
first months, first year, the child and the mother come
into sync with each other. That is, you hardly
could use words about it. That’s what needs to be
captured by the teachers and they’re taught
how to do that. – Governor, thank you
for your time today. Ladies and gentlemen,
the 35th governor of the state of
Minnesota, Albert Quie. – That’s it for this
week on Compass. Thanks to Barry Anderson
and Robin Wolpert for hosting this
conversation with former Minnesota governor Al Quie. Our Compass producer,
Laura Kay Prosser, will take it from here and
end this week’s episode with the next installment of
the Compass Literature Corner. Thanks for watching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *