Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Say no to star chamber judicial selection

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“Look mommy. My favorite columnist says everytime a conservative wins, a liberal wants to ban the election.” It’s a wonderful life in Wisconsin, isn’t it?

But seriously, last week for the MacIver Institute I took a look at so-called “merit selection” for judges and found the idea terribly flawed.  I’m afraid there are just some things we’ll just have to trust to the people.  That’s what democracy looks like.

M-BS would take the selection of judges out of the hands of the voters. Instead, a “citizen panel” (as the editors describe it) would create a list of potential candidates for the governor to choose from. The governor would only be able to choose from the list. At the end of the judge’s term, voters would only have the right to vote yes or no on the judge serving another term. If the voters vote no, then the same “citizen panel” would get to make another list, the governor another appointment, and the citizens can just lump it until the next term expires.

Or if the “citizen panel” does not like a judge for some reason, they can remove the judge, even if the judge enjoys the popular support of the electorate. To fill the vacancy created by the “citizen panel” the panel will just create another list for the governor.

No more messy seeking the consent of the governed, no more accountability to the great unwashed via contested elections. The great Brahmins of the “citizen panel” will save us all.

The “citizen panel,” the Wisconsin State Journal tells us, is “an independent panel of lawyers and non-lawyers.” They would be “chosen by a variety of non-political and political sources.”

If it does not sound like a system of accountability, well, that’s the point. Even the popularly elected governor (at least for now) would have no say on who his judicial pick might be because he will be limited to the list.

In other words, you can have any judge you want, as long as they’re approved by… whom? The increasingly liberal editors of the Wisconsin State Journal? The members of the liberal Wisconsin Judicial Integrity Campaign Committee that tried to prevent Justice Michael Gableman’s election? Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson?

And just who watches the watchmen? How will they be appointed, and how can they be removed?

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