Friday, November 04, 2005

Why Electing Judges is an Awful Idea

The wrangling for an impartial judge in the DeLay Case highlights one of the many problems with elected judges. Elections make judges just one more political actor, rather than an impartial decision-maker. Subjecting judges to the election process forces them to play the game of politics, which is a far cry from the judicial ideal.

Over the past ten years, judicial elections have gotten more and more political. The same sort of unashamedly misleading rhetoric of other political campaigns has taken root in the judicial elections across the country. Signed opinions make it all too easy for political operatives to find words or phrases that, when taken out of context of the entire opinion, make for great sixty second spots.

And, as shown in the whole DeLay judge fight, judges themselves become more political. They align themselves with a political party, donate to its candidates, and sometimes share campaign operative with other political candidates. This should be troubling to anyone who believes that justice ought to be blind.

We can never fully insulate judges from politics. But we can, and must, do everything within our means to keep them as apolitical as possible. A system of justice based on equality of individuals demands it.


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