Friday, November 09, 2007

Justice O'Connor's wand

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor made more than her fair share of rulings based on little more than wishful thinking and fairy dust, but the article I've linked to contains a report on some interesting ideas that Her Honor has about reforms within the justice system throughout the United States.

The most important is reforming judicial selection processes in the various states. In Texas, judicial elections are contested and partisan -- in other words, the judiciary is voted upon by voters who select a Democrat or Republican for each post. Last year, every contested election in Dallas County went to a Democrat. That's simply stupid -- Dallas actually cleaned out a couple of poor judges, but lost a number of good ones who were replaced by far less competent people. The reason they lost -- Texas allows straight-ticket voting and Democrats won 20,000 more straight-ticket votes than Republicans in Dallas County last year. Most of the elections were won by less than that margin. Furthermore, Dallas had been such a Republican controlled county that moderates and former Democrats elected to the bench switched parties to retain their judgeships. Ironically, one judge who would have lost her seat on the bench announced her resignation earlier in 2006 (she would have been drubbed) and ended up with an appointment from Pres. Bush to a Fifth Circuit seat, for which she will probably win Senate approval.

The whole arrangement is ludicrous. Justice O'Connor successfully fought for non-partisan judicial selection in her home state of Arizona more than 30 years ago and won. Too bad so many other states, including The Monk's own, have failed to follow suit.

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