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Author Topic: Should Supreme Court Justices be elected?  (Read 14055 times)
frenger
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« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2004, 08:54:10 am »
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I used to think it would be a good idea to have them elected, but after reading all the arguments I reconsider. But still, I'd like to share some toughts about it:
--Many State Supremem Court Justices are elected. They're decisions seem little worse than any other State Supreme courte Justice.
--Better yet, a lot of states have their all judicial branch elected. Once again, it seems little worse than any others.
--The President in offic at the time of appionting Justices has the power to dictate something that will affect the country long after he leaves office.
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« Reply #26 on: July 15, 2004, 09:10:00 am »
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If a decision is really bad, we do have an appellate system. You can go through several courts before a case is decided once and for all. I would simply suggest acceptance of Supreme Court decisions, or a reconsideration of what you think is judicial activism.
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« Reply #27 on: July 15, 2004, 09:15:24 am »
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I used to think it would be a good idea to have them elected, but after reading all the arguments I reconsider. But still, I'd like to share some toughts about it:
--Many State Supremem Court Justices are elected. They're decisions seem little worse than any other State Supreme courte Justice.
--Better yet, a lot of states have their all judicial branch elected. Once again, it seems little worse than any others.

You know what happens?  Good judges who uphold the law are booted out by the people for failure to be "tough on crime."  At least, this is the case in Wisconsin.  It's bad enough when DAs are fired by the people because of low conviction rates.  When judges also have a built-in incentive to convict, it kinda undermines the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

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--The President in offic at the time of appionting Justices has the power to dictate something that will affect the country long after he leaves office.

If the judges stuck to interpreting the law as written, this wouldn't be a problem.
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frenger
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« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2004, 09:34:32 am »
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I used to think it would be a good idea to have them elected, but after reading all the arguments I reconsider. But still, I'd like to share some toughts about it:
--Many State Supremem Court Justices are elected. They're decisions seem little worse than any other State Supreme courte Justice.
--Better yet, a lot of states have their all judicial branch elected. Once again, it seems little worse than any others.

You know what happens?  Good judges who uphold the law are booted out by the people for failure to be "tough on crime."  At least, this is the case in Wisconsin.  It's bad enough when DAs are fired by the people because of low conviction rates.  When judges also have a built-in incentive to convict, it kinda undermines the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

Well, I agree the system is not flawless. But it's better to hve judges set in office by the people then by corrupt bureaucrats.

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If judges stuck to interpret the law as written, this wouldn't be a problem

Well, the fact is they don't.
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« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2004, 09:56:11 am »
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I used to think it would be a good idea to have them elected, but after reading all the arguments I reconsider. But still, I'd like to share some toughts about it:
--Many State Supremem Court Justices are elected. They're decisions seem little worse than any other State Supreme courte Justice.
--Better yet, a lot of states have their all judicial branch elected. Once again, it seems little worse than any others.

You know what happens?  Good judges who uphold the law are booted out by the people for failure to be "tough on crime."  At least, this is the case in Wisconsin.  It's bad enough when DAs are fired by the people because of low conviction rates.  When judges also have a built-in incentive to convict, it kinda undermines the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

WI sounds different than IL in that respect. I've seen many judicial elections and retention votes here at the circuit, appelate and supreme court level. I can't recall any that have been about convivtion rate for criminal cases.

Circuit court elections are generally about experience vs. Bar ratings. For the retention votes, a judge is turned out in only the rarest cases, usually for unethical behavior that gets significant media attention. Even when there was an extremely unpopular decision at the circuit level a few years ago, it did not result in a failed retention bid.

Appellate and Supreme Court elections are even less about conviction. Most are judges moving up from lower courts, and at the circuit level most judges aren't in the criminal division. At best they take a rotation there. The result is again about experience and consistent approval from the lawyers who work with them.
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« Reply #30 on: July 15, 2004, 11:18:06 am »
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I used to think it would be a good idea to have them elected, but after reading all the arguments I reconsider. But still, I'd like to share some toughts about it:
--Many State Supremem Court Justices are elected. They're decisions seem little worse than any other State Supreme courte Justice.
--Better yet, a lot of states have their all judicial branch elected. Once again, it seems little worse than any others.

You know what happens?  Good judges who uphold the law are booted out by the people for failure to be "tough on crime."  At least, this is the case in Wisconsin.  It's bad enough when DAs are fired by the people because of low conviction rates.  When judges also have a built-in incentive to convict, it kinda undermines the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

WI sounds different than IL in that respect. I've seen many judicial elections and retention votes here at the circuit, appelate and supreme court level. I can't recall any that have been about convivtion rate for criminal cases.

I wish I could find some election ad archives for WI judicial races.  It seems like, whenever there's a hotly contested bench seat, the whole race devolves into which candidate is tougher on criminals.  Qualifications be damned.  We've got to think of the children!  (As if electing the other guy will somehow result in the streets being flooded with drug pushers and pedophiles.)

I'm glad IL is better in this regard.
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frenger
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« Reply #31 on: July 15, 2004, 11:24:27 am »
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Ok, what about this: the President would appoint someone, then he would need congressional aproval, and then, if congress aproved, he would have to be subject to a nationwide vote. A vote only Yes or No. If No won, then the process would start again. What about it?
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« Reply #32 on: July 15, 2004, 01:09:24 pm »
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Ok, what about this: the President would appoint someone, then he would need congressional aproval, and then, if congress aproved, he would have to be subject to a nationwide vote. A vote only Yes or No. If No won, then the process would start again. What about it?

1. It would be extremely expensive.
2. It would be extremely slow.
3. Congress already acts as a delegate of the popular will.
4. Would it really change anything?  Would it prevent judges from legislating from the bench?  I think, in fact, that they would be more likely to legislate, believing themselves to have been given a popular mandate from the American people.

All it would really do is make Americans feel slightly less resentful towards judicial activism.  It wouldn't prevent it.

(Sorry, I don't intend this to be a flame.  I just feel strongly that the judiciary needs to be independent and not subject to politics.)
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frenger
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« Reply #33 on: July 15, 2004, 01:16:20 pm »
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Ok, what about this: the President would appoint someone, then he would need congressional aproval, and then, if congress aproved, he would have to be subject to a nationwide vote. A vote only Yes or No. If No won, then the process would start again. What about it?

1. It would be extremely expensive.
2. It would be extremely slow.
3. Congress already acts as a delegate of the popular will.
4. Would it really change anything?  Would it prevent judges from legislating from the bench?  I think, in fact, that they would be more likely to legislate, believing themselves to have been given a popular mandate from the American people.

All it would really do is make Americans feel slightly less resentful towards judicial activism.  It wouldn't prevent it.

(Sorry, I don't intend this to be a flame.  I just feel strongly that the judiciary needs to be independent and not subject to politics.)

Well, if that's the point, then i have a sugestion. What about getting some comitee where congress, judges and the executive branch were represented, and have it appoint the judges?
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« Reply #34 on: July 15, 2004, 01:32:20 pm »
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Well, if that's the point, then i have a sugestion. What about getting some comitee where congress, judges and the executive branch were represented, and have it appoint the judges?

Well, besides the judiciary being independent, they also need their power checked by the other branches.  We have that: the Executive appoints, the Legislature consents.  To allow the judiciary a say in their own composition would remove a lot of that check on their power.

The thing that differentiates the courts is that they ultimately decide what the law means.  That is a tremendous amount of power.  Of the three branches, the one that poses the biggest risk of being used for a coup is the Judicial.  If you politicize the court (by making them subject to popular election) you make it far too easy for ideology to rule the day, over sound legal judgement.  Judges must be able to interpret the law as impartially and independently as possible.  Sure, ideology is going to color their judgement, but once you subject them to the whims of politics, all semblance of independence and impartiality goes out the window.  The judiciary becomes nothing more than a tool for whatever ideological majority exists to dominate the government.
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frenger
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« Reply #35 on: July 15, 2004, 01:43:57 pm »
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Well, if that's the point, then i have a sugestion. What about getting some comitee where congress, judges and the executive branch were represented, and have it appoint the judges?

Well, besides the judiciary being independent, they also need their power checked by the other branches.  We have that: the Executive appoints, the Legislature consents.  To allow the judiciary a say in their own composition would remove a lot of that check on their power.

The thing that differentiates the courts is that they ultimately decide what the law means.  That is a tremendous amount of power.  Of the three branches, the one that poses the biggest risk of being used for a coup is the Judicial.  If you politicize the court (by making them subject to popular election) you make it far too easy for ideology to rule the day, over sound legal judgement.  Judges must be able to interpret the law as impartially and independently as possible.  Sure, ideology is going to color their judgement, but once you subject them to the whims of politics, all semblance of independence and impartiality goes out the window.  The judiciary becomes nothing more than a tool for whatever ideological majority exists to dominate the government.

Well, in that case, the congress should be given extra powers to oversee the Judiciary.
Still, I think a confirmation vote would help to secure the legitimacy of the judges. It would not need to be a 50% requierement. let's say if more than 70% of the peple rejected that judge, he woulnd't be nominated.
It's just that I have a hard time trusting politicians to appoint the judges. I think the way they act now, like Bush and Kerry are doing about pro-life and pro-choice judges is much more degradating than elected judges.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2004, 01:46:11 pm by Bono »Logged

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« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2004, 02:34:57 pm »
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I used to think it would be a good idea to have them elected, but after reading all the arguments I reconsider. But still, I'd like to share some toughts about it:
--Many State Supremem Court Justices are elected. They're decisions seem little worse than any other State Supreme courte Justice.
--Better yet, a lot of states have their all judicial branch elected. Once again, it seems little worse than any others.

You know what happens?  Good judges who uphold the law are booted out by the people for failure to be "tough on crime."  At least, this is the case in Wisconsin.  It's bad enough when DAs are fired by the people because of low conviction rates.  When judges also have a built-in incentive to convict, it kinda undermines the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

WI sounds different than IL in that respect. I've seen many judicial elections and retention votes here at the circuit, appelate and supreme court level. I can't recall any that have been about convivtion rate for criminal cases.

I wish I could find some election ad archives for WI judicial races.  It seems like, whenever there's a hotly contested bench seat, the whole race devolves into which candidate is tougher on criminals.  Qualifications be damned.  We've got to think of the children!  (As if electing the other guy will somehow result in the streets being flooded with drug pushers and pedophiles.)

I'm glad IL is better in this regard.

Around here you might see three candidates each touting themselves as follows:

Candidate A: I've spent more hours in a courtroom than either of my opponents.

Candidate B: I have the highest rating from the IL State Bar.

Candidate C: I'm he only lifelong resident who understands the kind of cases that will come up.

Curiously, I've seen all of these messages win in different elections.
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« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2004, 06:46:51 pm »
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The real reason to vote for SCOTUS is because you want your politics represented.  Result?  Partisan justices.

The whole point behind the Court is that it's a panel of legal experts out to interpret the law, not pander to certain demographics or ideologies.  Sure, there are partisan decisions, but elections would make it worse, make it explicit.
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« Reply #38 on: July 16, 2004, 01:05:15 pm »
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I have a question for everyone posting here.

We currently have many judges across the nation legislating from the bench. How do we stop judges from doing this? What are some solutions to solving this problem? I can not currently think of any answer.

You haven't made the case that there is any need to "stop" anything. Judges in the Common Law system have always been active players in the creation of law (known as "common law" or "black-letter law" or "precedential law" or "judge-made law"). Legislation can rarely be so specifically written as to take into account all possible circumstances. Judges have to interpret the will of the legislature as well as whether the legislature's will interferes with fundamental rights. This role is especially important in preventing tyranny of the majority as I mentioned before. The term "legislating from the bench" is merely a pejorative characterization used by those who disagree with the judges' decisions.
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« Reply #39 on: July 16, 2004, 01:13:59 pm »
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I used to think it would be a good idea to have them elected, but after reading all the arguments I reconsider. But still, I'd like to share some toughts about it:
--Many State Supremem Court Justices are elected. They're decisions seem little worse than any other State Supreme courte Justice.

Except in the cases in which there is rampant corruption and favoritism shown by elected supreme court judges (such as in Ohio). Usually, this kind of thing doesn't affect constitutional matters, but the fact is that state courts handle few constitutional cases. Usually it's commercial suits, injury suits, criminal cases, and administrative functions, all of which are rife with corruption.

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You know what happens?  Good judges who uphold the law are booted out by the people for failure to be "tough on crime."  At least, this is the case in Wisconsin.  It's bad enough when DAs are fired by the people because of low conviction rates.  When judges also have a built-in incentive to convict, it kinda undermines the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

Plus, voters usually have no information on which to base voting for judges. In a state like Ohio, where they remove party labels from the ballot in judicial races, there is even less information. As a result, judicial races are usually based on either pure name recognition or some kind of off-the-wall nonsense.

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If the judges stuck to interpreting the law as written, this wouldn't be a problem.

This is a red herring. Judges do "stick to interpreting the law as written," except when they decide that the law is unconstitutional (or beset by some other technical flaw). Judges, in fact, defer to the legislature all the time, except when the legislature is interfering with a fundamental right.
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« Reply #40 on: July 16, 2004, 01:34:22 pm »
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If the judges stuck to interpreting the law as written, this wouldn't be a problem.

This is a red herring. Judges do "stick to interpreting the law as written," except when they decide that the law is unconstitutional

Interpretation includes determining that a law is nullified by a higher law.  Our Constitution is simply the highest law in the land.  Declaring a law unconstitutional is still interpreting the law.

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(or beset by some other technical flaw).

Determining that a law is badly phrased or self-contradictory is also interpreting the law.
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« Reply #41 on: July 16, 2004, 01:36:41 pm »
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They should have to come up for review every ten years by the judiciary commitee.
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« Reply #42 on: July 20, 2004, 03:48:25 pm »
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If the judges stuck to interpreting the law as written, this wouldn't be a problem.

This is a red herring. Judges do "stick to interpreting the law as written," except when they decide that the law is unconstitutional

Interpretation includes determining that a law is nullified by a higher law.  Our Constitution is simply the highest law in the land.  Declaring a law unconstitutional is still interpreting the law.

Quote
(or beset by some other technical flaw).

Determining that a law is badly phrased or self-contradictory is also interpreting the law.

I think I'm pretty much agreeing with you here. I don't think -- contrary to the Republican line -- that the federal judiciary constitutes an out-of-control, unelected tyranny. I think the federal judiciary (except for Scalia and Thomas and except in Bush v. Gore) has pretty much doing its job conscientiously and properly over the past few decades. The courts have been doing what courts have always done with regard to interpreting and applying the law.
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« Reply #43 on: July 29, 2004, 05:15:10 pm »
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No, I don't believe that justices should be elected at all, but I have thought about the possibilities of appointing them for a limited term--say 10 years.  I think the we need to keep electioneering out of the judicial process at this level to protect judicial integrity. Having set terms would allow us to prevent a single president from determining the courts makeup for generations. How about this?
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« Reply #44 on: July 29, 2004, 07:08:17 pm »
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No, I don't believe that justices should be elected at all, but I have thought about the possibilities of appointing them for a limited term--say 10 years.  I think the we need to keep electioneering out of the judicial process at this level to protect judicial integrity. Having set terms would allow us to prevent a single president from determining the courts makeup for generations. How about this?
It is interesting that in states with appointed judges the same argument is used as in states with elected judges. In IL I often hear that it is better to elect the judges because it protects their judicial integrity, otherwise they would be beholden to the politics of the appointing power. I suspect that good judges will do well regardless of the system that produces them.
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« Reply #45 on: September 21, 2004, 11:03:50 pm »
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I believe the consequences of an elected Supreme Court could be disastrous. The freedom to decide cases on their merits and not on public opinion would no longer exist.
The Constitution itself was ratified by the People meeting in convention, and the same method may be used to amend the Constitution.  You are in essence arguing that the People are qualified to create and amend the Constitution but are unqualified to determine what they meant when they did so.

This is the same sort of attitude that led to the electoral college and indirect election of the Senate, that said that while men might be qualified to vote, women are not; and perhaps not all men, certainly not those who have dark skin, or don't own property.
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« Reply #46 on: September 22, 2004, 01:27:06 am »
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Do they get to rule on their own elections?
That could be a problem.
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