Monday, December 08, 2008

On Straight Party Voting and Judicial Elections

I would vote in favor of this pair of suggestions:

1. Stop electing judges.
2. End straight-ticket voting.

I argued in favor of the latter of those proposals here.

As to the former, while those advocating the appointment of judges will inevitably accused of being anti-democratic, judicial elections are farcical because the candidates, unlike those for other offices, are prevented by judicial ethics from stating what positions they will take while in office. Every person who comes before a court has the right to a hearing before an impartial judge, and even the pretense of impartiality is lost if a judge has declared himself out on the campaign trail.

Additionally, too many voters are prone to think of judges in the same way that they think of legislators. Judges must not only consider ends, but they must also consider means to ends when deciding cases. That is too infrequently understood by Americans who failed to learn much in their high school civics classes.

Judges should be appointed, not elected.

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