Letter: Support judicial election reformOver the past few years, federal court decisions (the White decisions) have allowed partisan political involvement in our judicial elections.
By: League of Women Voters Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
Over the past few years, federal court decisions (the White decisions) have allowed partisan political involvement in our judicial elections. And now the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (Citizens United) has opened the door to unlimited corporate spending in elections — directly affecting not only executive and legislative races, but judicial elections too.
Even before this recent ruling, other states had experienced wide-open spending on judicial races.
For example, $9 million was spent on one judicial race in Illinois in 2004, and $8 million on one judicial race in 2006 in Alabama. Over $5 million was spent on one race in Wisconsin in 2007 and again in 2008.
Compare that to the most ever spent in a Minnesota judicial campaign: about $300,000.
We in Minnesota have a strong and impartial state judiciary. Surveys show that Minnesotans have a high degree of trust in our court system. We need to preserve this trust and insulate Minnesota judges from politics and big money.
A key way to do that is by supporting the judicial election reform before the Legislature this session.
The proposed legislation calls for merit selection of all judges, performance evaluations of all judges and a constitutional amendment providing for retention elections. Retention elections do not pit one candidate against another, but, rather, leave it up to voters to decide whether a given judge should be retained or not. If the answer is “no,” a replacement judge is chosen via the merit selection process.
Experience in other states demonstrates that far less money is spent in retention elections than in contested elections. Less money spent means less likelihood of improper influence and more public trust.
We urge you to get behind judicial election reform this session. Contact your legislator.
League of Women
Voters Red Wing