How to select judges in Minnesota?

In response to Linner’s comments on my blog about candidate Tim Tingelstad, his comment about Merit Selection and Retention Elections:

To secure this “liberty and justice” the Minnesota Constitution gives the people the right to hold our courts accountable through meaningful judicial elections. But our Minnesota Supreme Court Justices want to replace judicial elections with “Merit Selection and Retention Elections” (hereinafter MSRE). Minnesotan’s should reject MSRE because: [read the rest in comment #6 on this page]

The proposal of MSRE is to have a commisssion select a pool of candidates that the governor would select from.  Later on the judge would be evaluated on their performance, and the electorate (citizens) would have the opportunity to vote a judge out, but not select the replacement.

The idea here is that we have a way to remove a judge, but the process of selecting judges, or replacements, would lie in the hand of the governor.

I like an impartial judiciary, and the idea that the selection of judges could be insulated from campaigns – and the inevatiable money chase – is very appealing.  The question is will that problem arrive in Minnesota.  The Supreme Court case that allowed for the money chase occurred in 2005, and I haven’t seen a judicial ad this cycle!

I also worry that such a system could be subject to abuse by political partisans trying to oust a judge whose views don’t jive with a determined minority who hope that their preferred judicial person would get selected by a sympathetic governor.  Of course if the selection is limited to just those nominated by the commission, then the ability to game the system in this manner is unlikely.

As the commentator Linners pointed out, this will require a Constitutional Amendment, so the legislature has to propose it, and over 50% of voters must approve it in a general election.

So with that huge barrier to it becoming the way our judicairy is selected, I don’t feel this is a reason to not vote for a Supreme Court Justice who favors MSRE – like Paul H. Anderson.

-Josh

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