Electing Judges And The Corruption of American Law

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor are against them. I’ve always found it strange. Why would we elect someone who is supposed to be impartial? Judges are not supposed to reflect public opinion but that of the law.

It has led to a partisan supercharging of election contests as the Democrats and Republicans embrace their own special interest groups. It also undermines the reputation of the courts. Justice O’Connor went on to talk about Caperton v. Massey Coal, the recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that a judge had to step aside when presented with a case involving a major campaign donor, in terms that made clear that she embraced that ruling—and not the position of four G.O.P.-appointed justices in the minority. The Caperton decision provides evidence of the deep corruption that campaign cash presents. The reach of that corruption has spread even into the Justice Department, which during the Bush years used the artifice of “policing” campaign contributions to judicial races to attempt to game the system further in favor of the G.O.P.—as amply demonstrated by the bizarre prosecution of Paul Minor and a group of judges in Mississippi, prosecutions carefully keyed to judicial elections in that state.

That was from September but here is The Atlantic with a roundup of judicial and major legal actions taken in this decade.

As evidenced by the earlier article and this one, even the halls of justice are not immune to political finagling and special interests. The latter post is quite explicit on all the extra-judicial powers that the Bush administration tried to push under the guise of protecting American ‘security and freedom’. There has been no culpability to the egregious violations of privacy or human rights during that administration. I do not quite understand how Yoo, Addington and others have avoided being put behind bars themselves.

It begins at the low level, the county and state levels, with the political election by parties pushing their own interests of judges that suit their tastes. It works up until it infects all the legal processes where somehow, legally, we allow a lawyer to circumvent international laws on war and torture without any sort of legal retribution after the fact.

Our credibility as a law-abiding nation, both from within and without, will continue to disappear until we take efforts to buoy both.

One Comment

  1. I totally agree…in my state we elect our Supreme Court judges and there was a recent scandal where two of them got caught up in a real estate scam……but everything is political and to trust our governor to pick an unbiased person is just too much to ask….