Jan 31 2012
The Eufaula Tribune has written an editorial decrying the current state of Alabama’s judicial politics. The paper reported that it received a note from Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Chuck Malone stating that “For the first time, we have a completely Republican Supreme Court and I am honored to be able to serve the people of Alabama as Chief Justice of that court and to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in our state.” All nine members of the state supreme court are Republican. As the editorial says:
Such a partisan court is troublesome, and not because all nine justices are Republican. We’d say the same thing if they were all Democrats. In actuality, our Supreme Court is more skewed than the oft-liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The words “court” and “skewed” should never be used together.
Alabama is one of six states, Pennsylvania included, that elects all its judges in partisan elections. Alabama had the second-most expensive state supreme court elections in the nation in 2010. The Tribune further reported that:
Since 1993, special interest groups vying for control of the court have contributed more than $54 million – nearly twice the amount in any other state – to candidates for the Alabama Supreme Court. In that period, the once Democrat-controlled nine-member court has become all-Republican.
This flood of contributions and hyper-partisanship undermines the notion of impartial courts wherever judicial elections are the norm. Merit Selection is designed to produce the most fair, impartial and qualified courts.