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

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Laughs and Insights in Video of John Oliver Mocking Judicial Elections

Very funny mocking of judicial elections with several good points along with the usual progressive flaw of failing to acknowledge that judges, esp. at the high court level, make law rather than merely applying law made by others. John Oliver's only guest is from the progressive Brennan Center.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Senator Pat Roberts Supports Reform of Kansas Supreme Court Selection

According to the Kansas City Star, "Roberts telephoned lawmakers Thursday — making five or six calls — promoting a bill to let the governor appoint judges to the Kansas Supreme Court with the consent of the state Senate. The measure is a priority of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback."

One of the Republicans opposed to Roberts and Brownback is Rep. Susan Concannon of Beloit. She "supports the current system for picking judges. She received a voicemail from Roberts asking her to support Brownback’s efforts to change that, she said, but “it didn’t change my mind.”"

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bills to Change Kansas Supreme Court Selection

As reported in today's Lawrence Journal World. Three bills: lowering judicial retirement age and either judicial elections or "federal model" senate confirmation.

This article errs in referring to Kansas Bar Association when it should say Kansas Bar (not all members of the bar in the association and vice versa).

Friday, February 13, 2015

New Mexico Judicial Selection

According to the Albuqurque Journal:

House Judiciary Chairman Zachary Cook, R-Ruidoso, has introduced House Joint Resolution 11, which would ask voters to amend the state constitution to eliminate partisan elections of judges. It would not apply to magistrates and justices of the peace, but would apply to state Supreme Court justices, and Court of Appeals, District Court and Metropolitan Court judges.
Currently, judges in those four courts are appointed by the governor from lists of candidates selected by a bipartisan nominating commission chaired by the dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Then, however, they must run in one partisan election, where they often face an opponent who has avoided the vetting of the nominating commission.
After that, judges face only nonpartisan retention elections. Voters in those elections have the benefit of reviews by the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission.
Cook’s resolution eliminates the partisan election step, which is a major flaw in a merit system.

New Mexico Judge Alan Malott writes:

in the late 1970s, New Mexico elected its judges through ordinary partisan elections. Not surprisingly, the dominant political party produced most of the sitting judges statewide. In 1988, voters approved a constitutional amendment that substituted a hybrid system for purely partisan elections.
This system provides that a judge is initially appointed by the governor, after being screened by a bipartisan nominating commission. But the judge must take on all comers in the next general election cycle, often only a few weeks or months after his or her appointment.
If successful in that partisan contest, the judge is subject to nonpartisan retention elections every six years and remains in office if 57 percent of the voters want to keep them there.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lawyers Tend to Tilt Left Liberal Progressive. Judges Don't. Fascinating NY Times piece.

According to a New York Times summary of research by political scientists, lawyers in the US are more liberal than the country as a whole and this is especially true of government lawyers, law professors, public defenders, female lawyers and lawyers who graduated from the Top 14 law schools. In contrast, judges are ideologically close to the country as a whole, with some (state and federal trial court) slightly more liberal and others (state high court and federal circuit court) slightly more conservative.

The New York Times summary: “Politics plays a really significant role in shaping our judicial system,” said Maya Sen, a political scientist at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and one of the authors of the study. Since judges tend to be more conservative than lawyers, she said, it stands to reason that the officials who appoint judges and the voters who elect them are taking account of ideology. She said the phenomenon amounted to a politicization of the courts, driven largely by conservatives’ swimming against the political tide of the legal profession.