If ever there was reason to end judicial selection by election, one need look no further than Kansas. The G.O.P. is seeking to replace four supreme court justices because it is unhappy with their rulings. Let us be clear: it matters not that the decisions are based upon fact and law and consistent with the state constitution. The result is wrong and so the offending justices must be thrown out or even impeached! The outrage apparently arises from the reversal of death penalty verdicts, blocked anti-abortion laws and hampering the governor's efforts to reduce spending.
This effort to remove and replace judges for unpopular decisions is occurring all over the country. The claim here and elsewhere is that the judges are not "accountable" to the public. Everyone should hope that they are not. Take a poll on whether or not a death penalty verdict should be reversed, and I expect that nary a single person would vote in favor. This idea that judges' decisions should be popular is ludicrous. It would be nice if they were, but it is totally irrelevant. Decisions requiring integrated schools, barring prayer in schools, allowing same-sex marriages, etc. most likely would not have received a majority of votes at the time rendered. Isn't it remarkable that the outcry over judicial decisions arises mostly when they favor the accused, the poor, minorities and the LGBT community? The failure to allow discrimination in its various forms is what gets the G.O.P riled up. Have they ever sought to oust a judge who ruled in favor of an oil company, a fracking company, a coal company or any profit-making corporation for that matter?
And then there is the process. Voters have no idea whether or not a person is qualified to be a judge or doing a good job as one. So now comes in all of this money---much of it from outside---to buy a more favorable judge--or apparently one who will not be hampered by the law, the facts and the constitution, but will decide as the G.O.P (or its backers) want. Lawyers and litigants who do or will appear before the judge or justice may contribute to the judge. I have asked in an earlier post: Can you imagine a lawyer or litigant in the midst of a trial walking up to the judge and handing him a campaign contribution? Sounds outrageous right? But is it any different if done a day, a week or a month before?
Unlike the legislative branch, the judicial branch does not rely upon polling. Sometimes the best, bravest and most competent judges make unpopular rulings. They are not elected representatives; nor are they "accountable". They are obligated to follow the rule of law, and efforts to remove them for doing so, even if one does not agree with the result, demeans the system and causes the public to lose faith in it.