Aug 19 2008
Merit Selection is a favorite target of those who worry that a process that removes money from judicial selection and weakens the role of political parties will keep the critics’ preferred candidates from reaching the bench. And once again, the Wall Street Journal criticizes Merit Selection in a thinly veiled call for more politically conservative judges to staff our federal and state courts.
PMC Board Chair Bob Heim and PMCAction Board Chair Bob Fiebach submitted a letter to the editor in response, arguing that the editorial mischaracterizes Merit Selection and ignores how successful it has been at the state level. (We are waiting to see whether the letter will be published before posting the full text.)
Merit Selection is designed to get the most highly qualified, fair and impartial judges on the bench, not to pack the courts with devotees of a particular political or philosophical leaning. While claiming to be supporters of judicial accountability, critics of Merit Selection often are simply concerned that their preferred candidates won’t make it through the process. That doesn’t seem to us to be a good reason to oppose a system that gets judges out of the fundraising business, emphasizes qualifications, skill and experience and results in judiciaries that reflect the diversity of the states from which they are drawn.
Our friends at Gavel Grab offer their thoughts on the editorial, wisely asking, ” Leaving aside the editorial’s many factual errors. . . the real question is this: what is so wrong with getting community input before nominating new judges?” The answer, of course, is that nothing is wrong with that, as the many successful state Merit Selection systems demonstrate. We hope Pennsylvania soon will join their number and implement Merit Selection for the appellate courts.Tags: Bob Fiebach, Bob Heim, Gavel Grab, Judges, Merit Selection, Wall Street Journal