A House committee in the Alabama Legislature has voted – mostly along party lines – to defeat two bills that would have taken partisan politics out of judicial elections. On March 25th the House Constitution and Elections Committee defeated a bill on a 6-5 vote that would have required candidates for judicial positions to run in nonpartisan elections. The committee also defeated, on a 5-5 vote, a bill to limit the amount of money candidates for appellate judge positions can receive in campaign contributions. Both bills were supported by Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, who has consistently said that Alabama residents want politics taken out of the process of selecting judges. I believe the Chief Justice is correct on that point.
The votes on the bills were along party lines, with Republicans voting against nonpartisan elections and against limiting campaign contributions. Democrats supported the bills but failed in their efforts. It will be difficult for those opposing these bills – especially the second one – to explain to folks back home why they voted against them. Alabama citizens want judges who are independent and fair and with no financial ties directly or indirectly to any political party or to any politically motivated group. Hopefully, there will be an effort to bring these bills up again and pass them.
Source: Associated Press and Birmingham News
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