O’Connor Continues Battle Against Judicial Elections

Since her retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has battled tirelessly against the election of judges. Roughly half the states appoint their judges, while the other half host elections for at least some judicial slots. O’Connor spoke about her concerns this week in the state of Washington, where the state’s Chief Justice, Gerry Alexander, http://www.courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/supreme/bios/?fa=scbios.display_file&fileID=alexander was nearly ousted in an election in 2006. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/14/sandra-day-oconnor-stop-e_n_286603.html

“It’s the flood of money coming into our courtrooms,” she explained, about the ever escalating costs of running for a judicial seat nationwide. She spoke at Seattle University Law School. http://www.law.seattleu.edu/x6595.xml

She told a crowd of 400 at the meeting on “State Judicial Independence – A National Concern,” that elections have become “nasty, expensive and destructive.”

O’Connor calls for a system by which nonpartisan commissions select judges for a term based on merit, after which voters could decide whether to retain them.

Alexander said he supports the election system, though it’s not perfect and the amounts of money being funelled into elections should be addressed. Serving in a black robe and being addressed as “your honor” can “go to your head,” he said. “It’s a hunbling experience to go through elections.”


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