Monday, December 28, 2009

Blog 18

End Judicial Elections

There has been a push recently, led by retired Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, to eliminate the process of electing judges on the statewide level.  While most federal judges are selected or appointed, local judges have to win an election, leading some to speculate whether or not they are selected for their ability to win a campaign or their ability to fulfill the requirements of being a judge.  The O’Connor Judicial Selection Initiative, of the University of Denver has been vocal about reducing the role of elections in the local and statewide judicial systems.  The elimination of such elections will also get rid of much of the mess involved running an expensive and time-consuming campaign.

For example, there was a case heard by the Supreme Court earlier this year based on the corruption charges of one judge, Brent D. Benjamin, who took $3 million in campaign donations, plus millions in bonuses and gifts, from the executive of a coal mining company, Don Blankenship.  This case, because it highlights the severe amount of corruption involved, will affect the judgeship elections in over 30 states.  In the state elections next year, a handful of states will vote on the election of judges; however, many of them are far from changing the current system.

As Rebecca Love Kourlis, former justice on the Colorado Supreme Court points out, it is hard to get people to agree to changing the system with a pitch taking away people’s vote for judges.  However, as she points out, doing this will allow merit to play a more important roll in selecting responsible judges than lets say, popularity of ability to win an election. However, one thing that still needs to be dealt with, it still takes charisma to be appointed, just like it takes charisma to be elected.  

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