Sandra Day O’Connor, the retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice, believes strongly that merit selection is the best way to choose judges and keep them independent. This well-respected public servant says it’s hard for judges to remain impartial knowing their decisions will influence how long they keep their jobs. She believes the money being spent by people running for the judiciary in states that don’t have merit selection is causing people to trust judges less. Justice O’Connor had this to say:
I hope that lawmakers will be cautious and look at what an independent judiciary has meant to this nation. Our judges must be capable of staying above politics if they’re going to serve the function of making impartial decisions.
Most supporters of electing judges claim that facing the voters makes judges more accountable to the people they serve. But Justice O’Connor believes judges aren’t as effective if they have to worry about whether their decisions will be popular. She also contends that electing judges brings in other elements that are harmful to the judiciary. Groups that oppose merit selection frequently cite “judicial tyranny” as another reason judges should be elected. Judge O’Connor dismisses that contention, as well, saying:
Our forefathers would be surprised to find they were establishing a tyrannical system when they wrote the Constitution. The only way to stop the onslaught we now face is to build an informed citizenry that understands the need for an informed judiciary.
Justice O’Connor has also expressed concern about Americans’ lack of knowledge about government. She points out that more people can name an American Idol judge or two of the “Three Stooges” than the three branches of government. It’s pretty hard to disagree with Justice O’Connor on any of her views.
Source: Associated Press
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