CATEGORIES
Look Who's Linking to PoliBlog:
3cx.org
Absinthe and Cookies
Accidental Verbosity
Admiral Quixote's Roundtable
All Day Permanent Red
All Things Jennifer
Ann Althouse
The American Mind
Arguing with signposts
Arms and influence
The Astute Blogger
Asymmeterical Information
Attaboy
augustus
B-Town Blog Boys
BabyTrollBlog
Backcountry Conservative
Balloon Juice
Bananas and Such Begging to Differ
The Bemusement Park
Benedict
Bewtween the Coasts
Betsy's Page
The Big Picture
BipolarBBSBlog
BIZBLOGGER
bLogicus
Blogs for Bush
The Blog of Daniel Sale
BoiFromTroy
Boots and Sabers
brykMantra
BushBlog
The Bully Pulpit
Cadillac Tight
Caffeinated Musing
California Yankee
Captain's Quarters
Chicago Report
Chicagoland of Confusion
Citizen Smash
Coldheartedtruth
Collected Thoughts
The Command Post
Common Sense and Wonder
Confessions Of A Political Junkie
The Conservative Philosopher
Conservative Revolution
Conservative and Right
Cranial Cavity
The Daily Lemon
Daly Thoughts
DANEgerus Weblog
Dart Frog on a Cactus
Dean's World Dear Free World
Brad DeLong
Democracy Project
DiVERSiONZ
The Disagreeable Conservative Curmudgeon
Down to the Piraeus
Drink this...
Earl's log
Earthly Passions
The Education Wonks
the evangelical outpost
exvigilare
Eye of the Storm
Feste
Filtrat
Firepower Forward
The Flying Space Monkey Chronicles
The Friendly Ghost
FringeBlog
Fruits and Votes
Functional, if not decorative
G-Blog.net
The Galvin Opinion
The Glittering Eye
Haight Speech
Half-Bakered
The Hedgehog Report
Heh. Indeed.
Hellblazer
Hennessy's View
High Desert Skeptic
The Hillary Project
History and Perceptions
Robert Holcomb
I love Jet Noise
Idlewild South
Incommunicado
Independent Thinker
Insults Unpunished
Interested-Participant
Internet Ronin
Ipse Dixit
It Can't Rain All The Time...
The Jay Blog
Jen Speaks
Joefish's Freshwater Blog
John Lemon
johnrpierce.info blog
Judicious Asininity
Jump In, The Water's Fine!
Just On The Other Side
KeepinItReal
A Knight's Blog
The Kudzu Files
LeatherPenguin
Let's Try Freedom
LibertarianJackass.com
Liberty Father
Life and Law
David Limbaugh
LittleBugler
Locke, or Demosthenes?
LostINto
Mad Minerva
Gary Manca
Mark the Pundit
Mediocre but Unexciting
memeorandum
Mental Hiccups
Miller's Time
Mind of Mog
Minorities For Bush
Mr. Hawaii
The Moderate Voice
The Modulator
Much Ado
Mungowitz End
My opinion counts
my thoughts, without the penny charge
My Word
mypetjawa
Naw
Neophyte Pundit
Neutiquam erro
New England Republican
NewsHawk Daily
neWs Round-Up
NixGuy.com
No Pundit Intended
Nobody asked me, but...
Obsidian Wings
Occam's Toothbrush
On the Fritz
On the Third Hand
One Fine Jay
Out of Context
Outside the Beltway
Suman Palit
Parablemania
Passionate America
Brian Patton
Peaktalk
Pelicanpost
Peppermint Patty
Phlegma
John Pierce
PiratesCove
Politicalman
The Politicker
The Politburo Diktat
Political Annotation
Political Blog For The Politically Incorrect
Possumblog
Power Politics
Powerpundit.com
Practical Penumbra
Priorities & Frivolities ProfessorBainbridge.com
Prof. Blogger's Pontifications
Pros and Cons
protein wisdom
PunditFilter
Pundit Heads
QandO
The Queen of All Evil
Quotes, Thoughts, and other Ramblings
Ramblings' Journal
Random Acts of Kindness
Random Nuclear Strikes
Ranting Rationalist
Read My Lips
Reagan Country
Red State Diaries
Jay Reding.com
A Republican's Blog
Resource.full
The Review
Rhett Write
Right Side of the Rainbow
Right Wingin-It
Right Wing News
Right Voices
Rightward Reasonings
riting on the wall
robwestcott
Rooftop Report
RoguePundit
The Sake of Argument
Sailor in the Desert
Scrappleface
Secular Sermons
Sha Ka Ree
Shaking Spears
She Who Will Be Obeyed!
The Skeptician
The Skewed
Slant/Point.
Slobokan's Site O' Schtuff
small dead animals
Sneakeasy's Joint
SoCal Law Blog
A Solo Dialogue
Solomonia
Some Great Reward
Southern Musings
Speed of Thought...
Spin Killer
Matthew J. Stinson
A Stitch in Haste
Stop the ACLU
The Strange Political Road Trip of Jane Q. Public
The Strata-Sphere
Stuff about
Suman Palit
SwimFinsSF
Target Centermass
Templar Pundit
The Temporal Globe
Tex the Pontificator
Texas Native
think about it...
Tiger
Tobacco Road Fogey
Toner Mishap
Tony Talks Tech
The Trimblog
Truth. Quante-fied.
Twenty First Century Republican
Unlocked Wordhoard
Use The Forks!!
Ut Humiliter Opinor
Varifrank
VietPundit
Vista On Current Events
VodkaPundit
Vox Baby
Jeff Vreeland's Blog
Wall of Sleep
Weapons of Mass Discussion
Who Knew?
The Window Manager
Winning Again!
WizBang!
WizBang Tech
The World Around You
The Yin Blog
You Big Mouth, You!
Zygote-Design
al.com - Alabama Weblogs

AJC's 2004 Election Politics Sites and Blogs
Campaign Finance
Welcome to newcounterculture.com World O' Blogs
WRKO-AM's "Political Junkies" list
Yahoo! Directory Political Weblogs
Young Elephant

Who Links Here

Sunday, October 23, 2005
PoliColumn: Selecting Judges in AL
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:04 am

From today’s Mobile Register

To eliminate election politics, there’s a better way to pick judges
Sunday, October 23, 2005
By STEVEN L. TAYLOR
Special to the Register

A plan has been floated by the Alabama Bar Association that could lead to a proposed amendment to the state constitution, altering the way appeals court judges are chosen in Alabama.

Under the proposal, voters would no longer elect the state’s appeals courts. Rather, a nine-member panel would suggest a list of three candidates per vacancy, and the governor would choose from this list. There would be no requirement for legislative approval of the nominations.

Each judge would be evaluated by an 11-member panel on a regular basis, and a report issued to the public. The judge would then be placed on the ballot in an uncontested re-affirmation vote.

The fundamental argument of the state ABA is that this will “take politics” out of the system.

This proposal has caused a substantial reaction from the Republican Party of Alabama, which opposes the idea. Twinkle Cavanaugh, chairwoman of the state GOP, has strenuously objected, stating that the proposal is anti-democratic.

On the surface, this would appear to be a quarrel between one group championing judicial independence and another that is fighting for electoral democracy.

Noble causes, both. However, there is a clear subtext that ought to be taken into consideration: The Alabama Bar Association tends to lean Democratic, and the judiciary is currently heavily Republican.

Therefore, it is hardly a surprise that the ABA isn’t happy with the current system, nor is it a shock that the Republicans would oppose reforming it, meaning that the debate is thick with party politics.

Placing that factor on the table, let’s evaluate the core of the institutional reforms being considered, focusing on the democracy angle.

On one level, it would seem that using electoral means to select judges is the best option. After all, shouldn’t the people decide matters of importance in a democracy?

However, there is nothing inherently anti-democratic about having key officials appointed to government. No one demands, for example, that the chief of police or the fire marshal be elected.

Indeed, there is a fundamental problem with the election of judges that we don’t always own up to: that even if one agrees that elections are best, the bottom line is that we, as citizens, don’t pay that much attention to who runs.

Most citizens who vote in judicial elections cast their ballots based on party affiliation alone, and that hardly qualifies as making a truly informed decision. This, of course, assumes that they vote at all.

Back in June of last year during the party primaries, in which voters selected nominees for Alabama Supreme Court races, turnout was abysmal. In fact, we set record lows in both the first and second rounds of the primary.

More mass evidence of the apathy we have toward these elections can be found in a poll conducted by the University of South Alabama in 2000, in which 80 percent to 85 percent of voters could not identify 11 of the 12 candidates for the state’s Supreme Court.

The truth of the matter is that most citizens will say they want the power to elect judges, but don’t really want to bother with actually exercising it.

Whenever the topic of judicial elections emerges and the cry for democracy rings out, I am always reminded of the time I was living in Texas and looking for information on an appeals court judge running for re-election. I called his office and requested campaign literature.

I was told that he didn’t have any, but if I called back later he would be happy to talk to me.

That experience has long resonated in my mind. If the candidate had no literature, and had the time to talk to one lone voter, it certainly must have been the case that his office was hardly being inundated with voters hungry for information about why he should be re-elected.

Granted, one anecdote does not prove anything in and of itself. But if we think about how little these candidates advertise, how little press they get and how little we, as voters, really attempt to make informed decisions as to their election, it is not hard to extrapolate that my story is representative.

Having said all of that, the ABA plan has some substantial problems. First, there is no such thing as “taking the politics” out of something so political as who sits on the bench. At the federal level, we have appointed judges; and one need look no further than the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court to know that the idea that no elections means no politics doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Second, taking away the role of the Legislature to confirm executive appointments of significance would diminish the democratic dimensions of the process beyond that of removing the electoral component.

If the only elected official involved in the process is the governor, then the influence of the views of voters is radically reduced. Indeed, the views of roughly half the electorate at any given moment in time would have no influence on the process whatsoever.

I would propose a system wherein governors appoint the members of the state judiciary to fixed terms, and the appointments would have to be confirmed by the state Senate. From there, a review would be conducted at the end of judges’ terms (perhaps six years) and a report issued to the public, after which a retention election would be held.

Such a plan would allow voters to influence the process via the governor and their state senators, and would also allow any egregiously problematic judge to be removed by the direct vote of the people.

Such a plan, used in one form or another in a large number of states, would strike the balance between our general apathy toward judicial elections and our need to have input into that process.

Filed under: My Columns, Alabama Politics | |Send TrackBack

2 Comments »

  1. But if we think about how little these candidates advertise, how little press they get and how little we, as voters, really attempt to make informed decisions as to their election, it is not hard to extrapolate that my story is representative.

    To the contrary, this is where the crux of the reformist argument lies. Alabama ranks first in the nation in terms of dollars spent on judicial elections. You can’t listen to the radio or watch t.v. during an election cycle without hearing/seeing vitriolic ads about the judicial candidates. There is, of course, a great deal of question as to just how effective such campaigning is with the general public which, as you rightly point out, is generally apathetic to judicial elections.

    The whole stated premise (and I emphasize the word “stated”) of the reformists is to de-politicize the process by removing the money — and thus the advertising — factor. This is McCain-Feingold on a local level, in some respects; let’s solve the problem with the elections by removing the anti-democratic, corrupting influence of money. We both know that doesn’t work, and any problems (real or perceived) should be addressed in a different manner.

    Comment by Scott Gosnell — Monday, October 24, 2005 @ 9:09 am

  2. The issue isn’t the comparison of advertisement to other judicial races, but the comparison to other offices. There is no doubt that, in their totality, judicial races get far, far less attention than other races for state office.

    And you are correct: the “get the money out ofpolitics” routine is tired.

    However, I still would prefer to see judges appointed with the voters having the chance to reject them on regular intervals. I have a hard time thinking that people make informed decisions ons in judicial elections.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, October 24, 2005 @ 10:00 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

The trackback url for this post is: http://www.poliblogger.com/wp-trackback.php?p=8478

NOTE: I will delete any TrackBacks that do not actually link and refer to this post.

Leave a comment



Take a Look At This!
Inquiries
Blogroll


Visitors Since 2/15/03
---

PoliBlog is the Host site for:

A TTLB Community


Advertisement

Business Associates

Finance Answers

Health Benefits

Beach Homes

Car Shopping

Advertisement


Powered by WordPress