Jul 08 2008
In November, voters in Johnson County, Kansas, will decide whether to replace their system of Merit Selection with partisan elections. An editorial from the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World, critically analyzing the proposed change, hits the nail on the head:
The proponents of the Johnson County change say partisan elections would make judges more accountable to the public. That may be true, but while judges are public servants, their job actually requires their first loyalty to be to the law, not to the constituents they serve. Making judges more directly accountable to the voting public creates at least the appearance that a judge’s decisions, which should be focused purely on the law, might be influenced by those who financially supported the judge’s campaign.
Money should play no role in judicial decision-making. But requiring judges to run expensive election campaigns creates the impression that money matters — not just in getting elected, but maybe even for what happens after the judge takes the bench. This undermines public confidence in the courts and impairs the ability of the court system to stand as a trusted, independent third branch of governent.Tags: elections, Johnson County, Kansas, Merit Selection, other states