Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Publicly-Financed Judicial Campaign in New Mexico

The Albuquerque Journal reports the first Republican to be elected to a state appellate court in 12 years is also the first publicly financed candidate to be elected to an appellate court since public financing became available to statewide judicial candidates in 2008.  It was the first time both candidates in a contested appellate court race opted to fund their campaigns with public rather than private dollars.  "Only candidates in partisan elections for the appellate courts are eligible for public financing. Not eligible are judges who have been previously elected and are running in retention elections, in which voters cast “yes” or “no” ballots on keeping them on the bench."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Do Judges Ever Lose Retention Elections?

Sitting judges nearly always win retention elections because such elections have no opposing candidates. The voters merely get to choose whether to retain this judge and most voters have never heard of most judges on the ballot. However, the rare judge sometimes loses even this sort of election.  It just happened in Arizona for the first time since 1978.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Montana Supreme Court Election Most Expensive on Record

The NY Times reports on the "most expensive judicial race on record in Montana."  According to the Times, "conservative groups have spent about $640,000 — $469,000 by a political action committee financed by the Republican State Leadership Committee and $170,000 by Americans for Prosperity".  "In response, a political action committee financed largely by Montana trial lawyers and unions has spent $475,000."

The big picture: "Corporate interests, who say they are trying to preserve jobs and create growth, and trial lawyers, who say they represent the voiceless against the wealthy and powerful, have long gone head to head in judicial elections."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Politics, Ideology and State Supreme Court Justices

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith L. French, an appointed Republican seeking to retain her seat in the Nov. 4 election, said at a GOP rally “I am a Republican and you should vote for me. You’re going to hear from your elected officials, and I see a lot of them in the crowd. Let me tell you something: The Ohio Supreme Court is the backstop for all those other votes you are going to cast. Whatever the governor does, whatever your state representative, your state senator does, whatever they do, we are the ones that will decide whether it is constitutional; we decide whether it’s lawful. We decide what it means, and we decide how to implement it in a given case. So, forget all those other votes if you don’t keep the Ohio Supreme Court conservative,” French said.

I like the frank recognition that state supreme courts can overrule the legislature and governor and the implicit acknowledgement that a justice's political philosophy can influence her rulings. I elaborate on these points in Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study