#rsrh Topic for discussion: electing judges.

Sparked by this report that apparently George Soros is pushing against electing non-federal judges: aside from the general rule of thumb of ‘George Soros does not generally act in what he what he would consider America’s best interests,’ are judicial elections a good thing, or not?


Moe Lane

PS: I don’t know.

10 thoughts on “#rsrh Topic for discussion: electing judges.”

  1. Depends. What do we want judges for?

    Do we want them to be responsive to the collective will of the people, as expressed in polling data, or do we want them to be responsible for applying written law to existing cases?

    Judging really only works if we, collectively, agree to its impartiality. A crooked judge is worse than no judge at all — witness our Commonwealth’s lovely kids-for-cash scandal as Exhibit 1.

    It’s a tough issue, really. We in PA elect our Supreme Court justices and I’ve always felt slightly icky doing so, but at this point I don’t know how else to prevent the Left from actively corrupting the courts.

  2. I’ve long felt that it is kinda bizarre to have judges run just like any other candidate, except that because of ethics they can’t promise anything (like normal political candidates) beyond being “tough and fair” and that kind of pablum, and it usually amounts to solely a name recognition and resume contest (or simply who works harder at the retail politics level).

    The real problem is that, imho, the skills to run an effective political campaign and the skills of actually being a judge are quite different.

  3. Here in The Great State of Florida, we vote on to keep our Supreme Court/Circuit justices or not. If they vacate their seat for any reason or is voted out, then our governor picks their replacement and the legislature approves them. Then they too are up for a vote evey few years or so. They normally don’t campaign to keep their office, but they can if they want. It works for us.

  4. Elections present a format where the people actually have a say in the process and potentially could remove an activist judge without difficulty. I’d guess the Soros wants elected officials to pick their judges since anyone selected will probably be someone who could help push his agenda through without being accountable to the people for the results. And wouldn’t this make it more difficult for them to be removed if they make a choice people don’t like? On the other side, how many people really look into the judge votes since there really isn’t a lot of info you can look up on them and they are typically listed as either a yes or no vote on the ballot? I know I try to search out info on the various judges that I need to vote for and it gets tedious trying to find out what kind of results they produce since most of the judges don’t have campaign websites that list their accomplishments. And good luck finding any info regarding a first time entry and how they’ll do.

  5. Soros is such an insidious creature. The fact that he’s taken a position on this creates a very strong impulse to go the other way.

    I’m happy to let ol’ george do my anti-thinking for me…

  6. Electing judges renders them subject to the consequences of their actions. Make your biases too profoundly obvious (I’m looking at YOU, Judge Sumi) or screw the populace over too thoroughly and you get to look for a new job. The death of justice in this country started when judges stopped being responsible to their neighbors for their decisions.

  7. No to electing judges. Yes to retaining votes. I do not want the judiciary to become partisan (too late), and what happened between Prosser and Kloppenburg should be a lesson as to why judicial elections aren’t healthy for the country or for any particular section of it. At the same time, one wants the ability to kick poorly-performing or poorly-behaved judges out…lifetime appointments are unacceptable for anything short of high federal posts, and the general police power is too important to be guarded by those who are completely immune from public opinion. The balance mentioned above strikes me as the happiest possible medium.

  8. I’m against electing judges on general principle, because it doesn’t make sense to me that the folks charged with checking the will of elected branches of government…should be elected as well. Really, what’s the point?

    The main complaint I hear from people is that unelected judges are harder to get rid of. May I propose a solution: instead of changing the rules around to allow for the election of judges, and further spreading our limited resources thin over a whole new set of elections and candidates, why not just elect legislators and governors who are willing to impeach and throw out left-wing judicial activists?

  9. I really find the idea of electing judges to be creepy. They’re supposed to be above the need for popularity and responsible for making decisions based on the facts and the law, not what benefits their re-elction chances.

    That said, you do need a method for removing embarassments to the profession, and not one that devolves into an old-boy clique. However, I don’t believe name recognition and political boosterism is the way to do it.

  10. A typical ballot here in Texas includes several dozen judgeships. Most of them are uncontested. The ones where I do have a choice have very little useful info available. Candidates post their resumes and offer some boilerplate verbiage about doing a good job. No policy stands, nothing for voters to go by except party affiliation. At the top level there may be news reports about decisions the incumbents have made. Below that, usually nada. I once strained my google-fu to find info on a local race and found . . . another blogger complaining about the lack of available info.

    Retention elections might be a good idea, I have no experience with that. Selecting new judges should go to the legislature. They can get some data to base the decision on.

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