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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ind. Courts - Column argues in favor of the federal (lifetime) model for appointment of Indiana appellate judges

SPEA professor Sheila Kennedy's blog post this morning is headed: "THIS is Why Judges Shouldn’t be Elected." It begins by noting that because of Justice David's opinion in Barnes, "the Tea Partiers are out for his blood." From the conclusion:

When the states established their own courts, however, they didn’t always follow the federal model.

When judges are on the ballot, bad things happen. They have to raise money to run for office, and that money often comes from people who have business before the courts. * * * They have to be wary of interest groups that may mobilize to defeat them if they rule in ways inimical to the desires of those groups.

Even in “semi” elections like Indiana’s, where all that appears on the ballot is a retention question, asking voters to say yea or nay to the continued service of a judge makes members of the judiciary vulnerable to small but passionate interest groups like the Tea Party that’s gunning for Judge David. (No pun intended.)

Most voters have no idea what the judges have or haven’t done, whether they are competent or not, whether they are hard-working or lazy. A significant number don’t even vote on retention questions. Because that’s the case, small numbers of zealots can mount successful campaigns to defeat a judge they dislike. Once that happens in a state, even a couple of times, the result can be a judiciary too timid to rule against public opinion in controversial cases, no matter what justice and the law require.

That isn’t the system the Founders established, and it isn’t a system capable of upholding the rule of law against the passions of the mob.

See also yesterday's ILB post, headed "Indianapolis Tea Party takes to air with anti-Justice David ad."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 1, 2012 09:18 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts