Do we want conscientious, smart judges or ones elected based on party affiliation? Until Illinois ends partisan judicial elections, moving to merit-based nominations and appointments, the state will lack qualified judges that we deserve.
Judicial races are under-the-radar for most of us, but not for industries likely to go before the judges in the future. So, what do we want? Well, we want political contests that lead to an absence of politics in the courtroom. Are we are kidding ourselves?
Judges who allow the burning of the American flag, allow Nazis to march, protect the rights of those charged with crimes and even those found guilty and uphold gay and lesbian rights should be revered for their courage and integrity, not punished.
In this era of political gridlock and unsolved problems, true bipartisan achievements are rare and warrant celebration. Which is why Michiganians should embrace the sweeping recommendations of the Judicial Selection Task Force.
If there were contested general elections in every political race, there would be no talk of mandatory term limits because the voters would have a greater ability to vote out of office those who did not deserve to be there.
What next? The facts are undisputed. The email was racist; its content despicable. It was forwarded by a sitting federal judge, indeed the chief judge of the district. Is this a wrong that can be righted by an apology?
Our courts have as of yet been exempt from the same level of scrutiny as Congress and our politicians, but there is a pervasive, ongoing corporate attack on judicial integrity, and what we're seeing is that a lack of aligned interests, secrecy, and corruption are eroding that system as well.
Can we count on judges to be truly independent, to make decisions only based only on the law, and not based on politics and/or what is popular, if they must stand before the public every few years in order to keep their jobs?
Illinois alone empowers its Supreme Court with absolute authority to fill judicial vacancies. Given that it grants one nominating body sole discretion over these appointments, transparency is especially important.
Will the Court that permitted the injection of unlimited corporate expenditures into our election process now prevent one of the best ways to ensure candidates without corporate backing have a fighting chance? We'll know the answer soon.
The lessons from Illinois and Iowa are that judicial retention elections are becoming increasingly ugly and are beginning to look like contested political contests instead of non-partisan judicial retention elections.