Jul 09 2009
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports that during the Aspen Ideas Festival last week, U.S Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor offered strong words for the states that elect judges. The Justices’ words should encourage the public to engage in a serious dialogue about judicial selection reform.
Justice O’Connor, a long-time supporter of Merit Selection, urged, “‘I think you can have very fair (merit-based) systems and I wish more states would do it.’”
Justice Breyer spoke about the Caperton case and noted that campaign contributions are “manifestations” of a larger problem: “‘It is that people more and more think of judges as junior-league politicians. All the messages that come to people tell them that.’”
The electoral process, complete with party endorsements, campaign-trail rhetoric, television ads and robo calls, and the fundraising required to fund a state-wide campaign certainly add to the perception that judges are just like other elected officials. We’ve been trying to get the message out that judges are different, and that they should be selected differently.
We hope the words of these respected jurists will help foster more serious discussion about implementing Merit Selection.