Briefly describe each of the 5 methods of judicial selection. Explain which of the 5 judicial selection methods you prefer and why?
One response is listed below feel free to agree or disagree.
Given the national attention to judicial selection, this is a very appropriate question and I’m glad to be able to weigh in. There are five ways judges are put on the bench to serve as arbiters of the law. The first is a partisan election, by far the worst way to create a judge. A judge is placed on the ballot with a party affiliation to go with their name and the voters choose who they want to serve on the bench for their community or state. Behind the scenes money is poured into these elections spreading rhetoric and giving the judicial branch the same treatment as the executive and legislative branches, and the same issues. A nonpartisan election removes the party label from the ballot but runs the same type of risks with the exception of name recognition being a major influence on the voter. Incumbents are rarely defeated in this scenario and this is the 2nd most used style of appointment. Appointments by the governor are the third way to choose a judge. The sitting governor of the state appoints a judge and in most cases is reviewed by another body. The fourth type of appointment is legislative selection where the state legislature appoints judges. Only two states use this type. The final type is the appointment-retention judicial election plan, which was initially called the Missouri plan. In this style, a committee of judges, attorneys, and laypeople make nominations for judicial vacancies. This list of names is sent to the governor to appoint one and that judge will serve for a specific time period. After that period expires, the judge will go up for a retention vote in an election with no other names to oppose. If they are retained, the judge sits for full term and if not, the process begins anew.
One would think judges should answer to the people. However, that’s not what the founders though. They believed judges should not be beholden to the will of the people so they can best serve the law. They interpret the laws, not create them. Therefore, in order to preserve the old concept of “justice is blind”, the judges of this country should not have to face election cycles. Judges who are elected will have more reason to favor those who voted in their favor and bend to the will of the people if they want re-election rather than fairly interpret law and pass judgement. If people want to say “the people should have a voice”, they have a voice when they elect their representatives. I believe our federal system is the best model whereby the executive (president/governor) appoints a judge and a legislative body (senate/state legislature) approves it. That’s when the legislature actually does their job, unlike our current sitting GOP run US Senate. If the people don’t like who a governor seats on a judge bench, then the people can vote out that governor in the next election.