General Question

JackAdams's avatar

Should judges be APPOINTED or ELECTED?

Asked by JackAdams (6430 points ) October 8th, 2008

I’ve lived in areas of the USA where they are only appointed by their peers, and I’ve lived in areas where they are elected.

I have mixed feelings on this, because if a judge is elected, then s/he is being chosen by those who are probably not competent enough to decide, based on their professional qualifications. But, if s/he is appointed by his/her peers, then allegations of “cronyism” could surface.

So, what’s the ideal solution?

I’d propose that judges be placed on the ballot by their peers (via a “nomination process,”) then the actual election could “validate” those nominations.

Agree? Disagree? Your thoughts?

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10 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I would agree with that idea.

autumn43's avatar

Sounds like a good idea. Although, electing anyone to anything nowadays is just something I’m not really into….

Harp's avatar

Currently, 27 states use judicial nominating commissions to present a short list of nominees to the executive from which to make an appointment. Each state decides how to constitute the commission, but a portion of the commissioners are typically nominated by the state Bar, but not judges themselves. This introduces an element of peer-assessed merit qualification to the process and theoretically limits the influence of political considerations. In some states, the commission must be reviewed by the state legislature, which is the voters’ voice in the process.

In my state, Illinois, state judges are elected. My sense is that very few voters here pay any attention to this process and blindly vote along party lines, if they vote at all. This strikes me as a particularly poor way to go about it.

For me then, the ideal is a judiciary appointed by the executive from candidates nominated by a commission who’s membership is confirmed by the legislature. That brings a full balance of powers into play.

lapilofu's avatar

The other flaw with electing judges is that the judges are then beholden to the people in their decisions, like any other elected official. Judges are really supposed to be beholden only to the law. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not their constituency will approve of their rulings. Appointment has its downsides, but I’d argue it’s still better than a simple election.

deaddolly's avatar

sounds good to me, Jack. I always thought it was a boys club of sorts.

cooksalot's avatar

I think that plan is just perfect.

Lightlyseared's avatar

One of the main problems with the election of any official is you might not end up with someone qualified to do the job.

JackAdams's avatar

Somebody sent me a PM saying, “You don’t like Judges at all, do ya, Jack?”

I replied, ”I like Judges about as much as I do Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. They all have their place, in the Old Testament.”

kruger_d's avatar

Heard a national panel discussing this issue on the radio this week. One recommendation was that judges should be appointed but that they could be ousted by special election. A very good point was made about senate confirmation hearings. Candidates are asked to do exactly what a judge shouldn’t do—establish opinions before hearing a case.

calicorey's avatar

I think that Judges should be selected by an IMPARTIAL board that is non political. This way they can weigh the true meaning of the law and stay out of the politics of it.

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