The down side of electing judges | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The down side of electing judges

Posted By on Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 8:09 AM

Would the federal courts have provided the necessary backup to end legal discrimination in the U.S. if they had been elected, rather than serving life appointments during the civil rights struggles? It's an interesting question, at least.

It arises today because of a New York Times article about the growing incidence of efforts to defeat state judges who've rendered decisions some voters didn't like. The leading example is in Iowa, where the Supreme Court ruled a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The religionists intend to punish three of the participating judges up for election this year by ousting them.

Brian S. Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, which has spent $230,000 on television ads criticizing the Iowa judges, said he understood that removing the three judges would not change the same-sex marriage ruling. (It was a unanimous ruling by the state’s seven justices.) But Mr. Brown said he hoped the judges’ ouster would help prevent similar rulings elsewhere by making judges around the nation aware that their jobs are on the line.

“It sends a powerful message,” he said, “That if justices go outside the bounds of their oaths, if the justices go outside the bounds of the U.S. and state constitutions they’re going to be held accountable.”

Bob Vander Plaats, who made opposition to same-sex marriage a centerpiece of his unsuccessful run for governor in Iowa, is leading the ouster campaign on behalf of the political arm of the American Family Association, a conservative Christian organization based in Tupelo, Miss.

“My bigger fear isn’t about injecting politics into judicial retention elections. The bigger fear is that we don’t hold them in check,” he said, warning that gun and property rights could be at risk.

I can't recall a popular effort that played a major role in Arkansas appellate court elections, though various interest groups over the years have certainly gotten involved. A bankers group went after a Supreme Court justice some years back because he was insufficiently solicitous to their feelings about what the Constitution said about interest limits. A judge's decision on school funding played at least a contributing role in a recent race for Supreme Court. But broad popular efforts have been missing. That undoubtedly will change. And federal court rulings that are enabling more vigorous political speech by judicial candidates could mean that they'll be egging such groups on. I'll say in advance: The federal system is preferable.

Tags: ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments (17)

Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Where's the outrage?

    Am I the only person, apart from federal prosecutors, outraged about the criminal enterprise that inveigled itself into a privileged position as an Arkansas taxpayer-financed human services provider to the tune, today, of $43 million a year?
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Where's the outrage?

    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Rutledge opponent hits her socializing with corporate interests

    Mike Lee, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has criticized Attorney General Leslie Rutledge over recent reports of her participation at private meetings where corporate interests make big contributions to a political group she heads for access to state legal officers.
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Viewed

  • Proposed child holding site in Arkansas 5 miles from WWII Japanese-American internment camp

    One big difference between Rohwer and today: The parents kept at Rohwer in World War II weren't separated from their children.
  • Baby gorilla born at zoo

    The Little Rock Zoo has a happy announcement: The birth of a healthy baby gorilla. The baby, whose sex has not been determined, was born to Sekani, who came to the zoo in 2004 from Toronto; her baby is her third. The father of the baby is a silverback, Kivu, and he is being "very attentive" to his first child, the zoo reports. Kivu came to the zoo in 2016 from Santa Barbara.
  • All in the family: Ten relatives of top executives were on payroll at PFH, the nonprofit troubled by corruption scandals

    Preferred Family Healthcare, the Medicaid-enriched nonprofit with a vast network of service providers in Arkansas that gobbles up tens of millions of dollars in state funding annually, has been in the news frequently this year because of its connection to multiple federal corruption cases. According to the most recently available tax filings, in 2015 ten family members of top executive were on the payroll, drawing salaries from PFH — including relatives of all four of the executives who were put on leave in the wake of the scandals. Three of these family members were making more than $100,000.
  • TGIF video and open line

    Headlines for June 22, 2018: Kelso and Little Rock Air Force Base inspected as child shelters, more responses to U.S. child abuse at border; Baby gorilla born at zoo; Hemp growing rules OK’d.
  • Digital kiosk to be unveiled Monday

    Mayor Mark Stodola will unveil on Monday a new digital engagement kiosk outside the Statehouse Convention Center that will provide a touchscreen for wayfinding, transit, weather, shopping and other advertisements and act as a free Wi-Fi hotspot.

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation