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

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Florida Supreme Court Appointments More Conservative

New Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, named Barbara Lagoa to the Florida Supreme Court. Lagoa is the first Cuban-American woman to serve on Miami’s appeals court and will be the first Latina on the Florida Supreme Court.

Gov. DeSantis also appointed to the state supreme court, Judge Robert Luck, "the first Jewish justice appointed in over 20 years", according to the The Miami Herald.

The Herald explains that these appointments will likely make the court more conservative as "The Republican governor ... is replacing three retiring Supreme Court justices: Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, who often sided on liberal issues and against the Republican-controlled Legislature."

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Judicial Campaign Contributions and Spending

A new article by University of Washington Law Professor Hugh D. Spitzer and Philip Talmadge "reviews empirical research by political scientists who have documented the effect of large campaign donations on how judges decide cases and on the public’s perception of court impartiality."

The article, "then proposes a number of actions that state courts and legislatures could take to control judicial campaign spending. First, we recommend that in jurisdictions with inadequate statutory judicial campaign controls, state supreme courts should act forcefully to impose strict caps on both direct and coordinated contributions to judicial campaigns, using the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 4.4(B)(1). Second, we suggest that state codes of judicial conduct should integrate the parallel mandatory disqualification mechanism in the ABA’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 2.11(A). Next, we contend that legislatures have sufficient cause under a strict scrutiny test to protect judicial impartiality and the appearance of impartiality by limiting total judicial campaign committee expenditures and controlling independent expenditures by outside groups. Further, we assert that if legislatures fail to act, the courts themselves have sufficient inherent authority to impose those expenditure limits. Finally, we urge states to adopt public funding systems for judicial campaigns, and we argue that the need for judicial impartiality should provide legislatures with sufficient cause to adopt restrictions that would not be constitutionally acceptable in non-judicial campaigns."