The Walter Peterson Forum for Civil Discourse is pleased to present a program with John Broderick, former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, on Tuesday, October 27, at 7:00 p.m. in Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough.
A decline in the character and quality of our civil discourse has become a sad fact of American life in recent years. We see it in so many places in our society. Much of the decline, however, is in the public sector where it is all too common for elected officials at all levels of government to attack colleagues of different political persuasion or opinion by impugning their motives or questioning their character. But it is especially damaging when the branches of government themselves collide amidst a swirl of ethical accusations of gross institutional and personal misconduct; when the reputations and careers of public officials in one branch of government and the integrity of the branch itself are put at risk by the accusations of another.
In February 2000 our state was gripped by the historic saga of a judicial impeachment proceeding involving the state Supreme Court. The legislative hearings and Senate trial that followed consumed the radio and air waves in New Hampshire for weeks with live coverage, flooded the front pages of our newspapers with headlines and ended with the overwhelming acquittal of a Chief Justice. Those tumultuous months that stretched from February to October of that year threatened the reputations of public officials, the basic integrity of a branch of government and the working relationships among the branches of our state government for years to come. Former Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. was the newest member of the Supreme Court in 2000. He buckled in for the ride of his professional life. He stepped down from the Court for months, testified in the multi-week televised House hearings before the Judiciary Committee and in the Senate trial of the Chief Justice. He will give the Forum a unique and granular perspective on those months inside the bubble and their near-destructive impact on his long-held aspirations for public service.
Though this situation occurred fifteen years ago, it introduced elements of political behavior which have continued to be a deterrent to effective government in New Hampshire. How can we restore integrity to the relationship between our branches of government, while still allowing for diverse opinions and candor in expressing them? Following Judge Broderick’s presentation the floor will be open to moderated discussion.
The Walter Peterson Forum was developed by the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, in partnership with Franklin Pierce University and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. The purpose of the Forum is to provide a variety of programs designed to foster ideas and practices for improving the quality and effectiveness of political discourse on the local, state, and national level.
The event is open to all and free of charge.