University of Denver College of Law, Denver, Colorado; Juris Doctor and Master of International Management (1997)
University of Denver, Denver, Colorado; B.A., International Studies, Russian Area Studies (1992)
2016, 2010- 2011 Super Lawyer, Mountain States; 2014 Recipient Professionalism Award, Idaho State Bar Association; 2011 Rising Star, Super Lawyer, Mountain States; Past President, Idaho Trial Lawyers Association; Past President, Fifth Judicial District Bar Association; Past President, Theron W. Ward Inn of Court; Member of the St. Nicholas Catholic Church (Rupert); Past President of the School Board of St. Nicholas Catholic School.
Years living in Idaho
Married for 20 years with two boys, ages 9 and 11.
I am running for the Idaho Supreme Court because my years of experience in the courtroom, dealing with issues both large and small, will serve Idaho well. My passion is the law. I have the ability to take complex legal issues and make them understandable. As an attorney for nearly twenty years, I enjoy writing legal briefs and arguing cases to the Idaho Supreme Court. It would be an honor to serve as a Justice.
My decision to run was also a result of encouragement by colleagues, friends, and neighbors. Others believed, as did I, that the Idaho Supreme Court is where I can best serve the citizens of Idaho. I also know that many are concerned that we have not had a woman on the bench for nearly ten years. While I certainly do not believe that a person should be chosen for a job simply because of their gender, I am the best qualified candidate and the fact that I am a woman is a plus. Including people with unique perspectives on the bench results in better decision-making and a more fairly-represented court that will enhance the public’s trust in the legal system.
I can add a fresh perspective to the Idaho Supreme Court. I understand, as do our current Justices, that the role of the US and Idaho Constitutions are to protect the rights of people. I have spent nearly twenty years working for people, representing clients from all walks of life and I understand the importance of treating people, and the law, with dignity and respect.
As the only candidate from outside the Treasure Valley, I am well-educated on the needs of rural communities and will bring my experience to the bench. In addition, my practice has dealt with both rural issues as well as urban issues. I believe that I can bridge the gap between the two, adding a well-rounded perspective. Also, as mentioned above, I believe that a female perspective would also be a welcome addition to the Court.
While it often seems that interpersonal communication is a dying art form, I assure you that it is alive and well in Idaho. I have traveled over 23,000 miles since this race started and I learned that there is no better campaign strategy than traveling the state of Idaho and meeting people. No amount of press releases or public endorsements beats a solid handshake and looking somebody in the eye during a genuine conversation. Meeting someone allows you to get to know them on a personal level and evaluate if they are fairly representing themselves in campaign materials and on campaign websites.
As a candidate, it has also allowed me the opportunity to learn more about the needs of various communities around the state and hear from all Idahoans what they want in an Idaho Supreme Court Justice. I understand that the people of Idaho want a justice who they can trust to put the Constitution and laws at the forefront of every decision and apply the laws equally to everyone. They want a Justice who is fair, impartial, honest, and respectful. My travels have fortified my belief that I am the right candidate for Idaho.
I can talk about my judicial philosophy and how I would make decisions as a judge. I believe that a judge is bound by the US and Idaho Constitutions and should, in all things, defer back to the text of the law, and when necessary, the intent of the Founders or legislators. Justices are not personal policy makers and should not assume the bench with a personal agenda. Judicial restraint is crucial. Law-making is best left to the legislature, respecting the separation of powers.
A good justice respects the law and respects people. He or she also exhibits integrity, common sense, and a keen sense of fair play. A good justice is prepared, educated on the issues before the Court, and willing to ask tough questions while maintaining the respect and dignity of the parties before him or her. He or she is intelligent and writes thorough, well-reasoned opinions grounded in the law. He or she is someone that renews the public’s faith in the legal system. I believe that the ideal Justice shows judicial restraint punctuated by moments of great bravery, when the law requires such.
A justice is a good listener who knows how to ask the right questions. He or she listens more than talks. He or she also must allow colleagues to have a different point of view and ensure that he or she keeps dignity and respect at the forefront of every discussion. There will be times when Justices disagree; however, all discussions should remain mannerly, never personal, and always grounded in the law.
Transparency in government is very important. It is also paramount in the judiciary, so long as there are no fundamental privacy violations as a result. The digital conversion of court records is a must. As technology changes, we must adapt and change our mindsets. As an attorney who practices in rural Idaho, I understand the challenges that this poses. We need someone on the Court who understands that some counties that face significant resource and training issues. The judiciary should ensure that administrative changes are viable in each county and should make the implementation of changes as sensibly as possible, respecting the uniqueness of each County.
Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, Georgetown University Law Center; Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, Northwest Nazarene University
Prior political experience
Idaho State Senate, 7 terms.
Chairman, Senate State Affairs; co-chairman, Energy, Environment and Technology Interim Committee, 2005-2016; Public Defense Reform Interim committee, 2013-2016; NCSL Nuclear Legislative Workgroup, 2011-2016; CSG West Energy and Public Lands Committee, 2014-2016; and Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee, 2011-2016.
Pacific Northwest Economic Region, President, 2007-2016; Boise Chamber of Commerce, Energy Resources Task Force, 2012-2013; Boise State University, College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, Advisory Council, 2003-2014; Love Inc. of Treasure Valley, Board of Directors, 2004-2007; and Syringa House board of advisors, 2008-2013.
Years living in Idaho
Three generations of McKenzie's live in Nampa, including my parents, three brothers, and two children
When Justice Scalia spoke to my Constitutional Law class at Georgetown University Law Center, I first dreamed of serving on the judiciary. I just didn't know if I'd ever get the opportunity to realize that dream. When Justice Jones retired from the Idaho Supreme Court, I grabbed the rare opportunity to run for an open seat on the court. I believe in the importance of public service, and I think my long and diverse legal career will serve Idaho well if I'm elected to the bench.
I will apply the Constitution as written. I believe in the principles of textualism and originalism as described by the late-Justice Antonin Scalia. Justices should apply the text of the Constitution and statutes as written without imposing their own preferences. When interpreting words, Justices should apply the commonly understood meaning at the time the law was ratified. Policymaking should be left to the people through their elected legislators and the amending process.
As I've traveled from one corner of our State to the other, Idahoans have told me how important it is to have a textualist on our highest courts. The next President could appoint two to four Justices to the U.S. Supreme Court,which could fundamentally change how that Court interprets the U.S. Constitution. Here in Idaho, we the people of Idaho, choose our next Idaho Supreme Court Justice. Its just as important to have a textualist on our Court. As a Justice, I will respect the separation of power between the branches and leave policy making to the people by interpreting Idaho's Constitution and statutes according to their plain language.
I ask voters to allow me to represent them on the Court based on my strong education background, diverse legal practice, and long record of public service. I have strong support from organizations rooted in Idaho commerce, agriculture, and communities, including the Professional Firefighters of Idaho, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the Idaho Associated General Contractors, the Idaho Farm Bureau, Idaho Chooses Life, the NRA, and the Idaho Association of Realtors. I am committed to applying the Constitution and Constitutional statutes as they are written, and my only pledge if elected is to faithfully and impartially perform the duties of my office.
A good justice applies the Constitution and Constitutional statutes as they are written without imposing their own policy preferences. A good justice strives for transparency, predictability, and clarity in his or her decisions. A good justice pledges to faithfully and impartially perform the duties of their office.
Justices should retain their independence and impartiality.
The court should strive for transparency in the judicial process while maintaining confidentiality where necessary, such as in juvenile proceedings and cases involving proprietary information.
In 1989 I received a ticket for no insurance. It was a misdemeanor at the time, but it is now an infraction.