Oct 23 2012

Select on Merit, Don’t Elect on Money

Published by at 10:18 am under Merit Selection

A recent editorial in the Daily Journal (Tupelo) explains that an independent judiciary should not have to campaign for contributions. Although the candidates for the Mississippi State Court election are all “honorable members of the

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legal profession,” the fact that they have to raise money for their

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campaign is unsettling. The amount of money that candidates raise is substantial; one candidate in the Central District has raised $375,000. His opponent has raised $290,000.

Some of this money comes from friends and colleagues expecting nothing more than an impartial judge; however, interest groups also contribute to judicial election campaigns. The problem with these contributions is that judges are supposed to be impartial, judging by the law, not by whether a specific interest group will donate to their campaign next time. Also, “[n]o interest group contributes to any candidate without some expectation that

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the candidate will represent its interests.”

Although upstanding judges will not decide cases based on interest group contributions, why have a system where interest groups might have a say? Even the appearance of special interest groups contributing to judicial elections should be avoided because it causes a lack of public confidence.

Under a merit selection system judges are not forced to campaign. Further, judges would not be pressured by special interest groups who contribute to campaigns with hopes of the law being decided in their favor. An impartial judge should be selected on merit, not on how much money one can raise.

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