Friday, August 05, 2005


Judicial Campaigns???

Cross-posted at my dKos diary.

The Star-Tribune has a recent interview with the lawyer from Eden Prairie who was the driving force behind the recent decision to allow politics into judicial elections. My question is, are judicial elections really a good thing?

When this issue gets media play, it generally sounds palatable to the public--power should come from the people, not allowing full campaigns for judicial seats is tyranny, etc. The product is people like Greg Wersal, who are Republicans, but call themselves populists for wanting to allow citizens a "fair" political picture of their judicial candidates.

There's a slippery slope here, however. If we-the-people are allowed to vote for state judicial races, why not federal circuit courts? If not circuit courts, why not appeals courts (you see where I'm going with this). Why aren't we allowed to vote for nominees to the Supreme Court?

Antonin Scalia, eat your heart out. Courts were intended to be the third equal branch of the United States government under the Constitution, this is true. However, the Founding Fathers intended for the courts to be insulated from the effects of politics, or "factions" as they were known in the parlance of the day. For a judicial nominee to align herself with a political party, she must give up the ability to make truly fair, balanced decisions based on the law of whatever jurisdiction she serves in. She instead becomes a politician like any other, beholden to the donors, parties, favor-brokers, political parties, and special interests that assisted them in their campaign.

The fact that the Republican Party is behind allowing politics into these elections makes me think that it can be used to our advantage. If Democratic candidates can successfully make the case that the courts should be fair, balanced, and outside the political domain, it could play well with Minnesota voters who are angry with the Legislature and Governor for the recent shutdown and want a more fair and less overtly political government. Of which, as is my understanding, there are a considerable number.

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