May 29 2012
An editorial in Cleveland newspaper, The Plain Dealer, is calling on Ohio’s governor to use Merit Selection when filling the vacancy on the Ohio Supreme Court created by the early departure of Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton. The paper is hoping that the governor will consult with a panel “that would screen potential nominees with an eye to quality and temperament, not electability or political ties.”
The governor has previously used Merit Selection to fill judicial vacancies at the county level. The editorial says, “Doing the same at the statewide level would send a powerful message that talent should trump politics.”
Judges must be honest and objective in order to maintain the integrity of the court, but judicial elections undermine the judiciary’s ability to remain unbiased. Groups that are likely to appear before the court make generous contributions to judicial campaigns which intensifies the public perception that justice is for sale. Merit Selection gets judges out of the fundraising business and promotes a system that aims to put the most qualified, not the most connected, judges on the bench.