Re-elect John Roberts!

A recent Harris Interactive poll indicates that nearly half (48%) of the 2,500 Americans who were polled said they believe that voters should elect justices to the nation’s highest court.  Bad idea?  Well, proponents could point out that the judges of many states, including Texas, are elected.  What could go wrong?

We’ve written here before about the unfortunate consequences that accompanies partisan judicial elections and how that process often leads to public distrust of our judiciary system. With the current federal laws governing political fundraising and the level of corporate money being thrown around on federal elections, can anyone even imagine how much would be spent in order to advance the U.S. Supreme Court aspirations of a particular candidate? And does anyone truly believe that corporations would back the most qualified and capable high court candidates over those who might be inclined to do their bidding?

If anything, we should be trying to limit the politics of judicial selection.  Much of what judges do is not expressly political, and instead involves making an impartial interpretation of the law or the application of that law to a specific set of facts.  When they do decide ostensibly political issues, the best judgments are often rendered by those who are somewhat removed from the emotion of political passions and can be a truly neutral decision maker.

For that reason, judges should be selected on merit, pure and simple. The public deserves the best, smartest and least-biased judges at the helm of our criminal and civil justice systems. If we aren’t getting the best Supreme Court Justices with the current system, perhaps it needs to be reformed.  But turning them to politicians and putting them on the hustings would be a step backward.


Posted: 1/5/2015 3:19:06 PM by Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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