Process Essay: Judging The Judges

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Judging the Judges
Judicial elections, a process virtually unheard of in any other modern-day democracy, is the most popular method of selecting judges in the United States. The elections are either partisan, requiring the candidates to secure an endorsement by a political party; non-partisan, requiring no political endorsements for the candidates; or retention, requiring appointed judges to face reelection to retain their seats after some time on the bench. Judicial elections were established in the nineteenth century to balance public accountability and political independence of the judges. And, with the settlement of most large-scale controversies ranging from: gun control to desegregation inside courthouses, the process of selecting judges
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These televised ads frequently air misleading slogans like ‘activist judges’ or ‘imposed verdicts’ just for the sake of the caustic reactions they engender. For instance, a televised ad aired in Illinois during the 2010 election season attacked the then supreme court justice Thomas Kilbride who was running for retention election for siding with felons instead of victims or the law enforcement based solely on the fact the he had questioned the misconducts carried out by the prosecution in some criminal cases. ‘Soft on crimes’ is one of the most popular and polarizing slogans used in these ads against judges. As mentioned above, these ads condemn judges for not being ‘hard on crimes’ further escalating the already existing blood-lust for criminals in society. These ads not only politicize the position of judges, but also significantly diminish the public integrity of judiciary because the public would be more unwilling to accept the verdict imparted by a judge who think is too lenient with criminals. Furthermore, these ads put undue pressure on judges to impart unreasonably harsh punishments to soothe the public hostility against…show more content…
For instance, if the parliament, acting on public opinion, was to make a law severely curbing the rights of some minority, the supreme court has the right to struck it down as unconstitutional, irrespective of the public support behind that law. This principle takes into account the notion that popular sentiments should not always be reflected in state policies, especially when they contradict the law. The process of judicial elections, however, is entirely based on public support as the basic legitimizing criteria for the justice system and fails to consider the fallibility of popular opinions. And, when judges are elected to their offices, the cannot work irrespective of public opinion which helped them gain their seat in the bench. Therefore, election of judges contradicts the basic principles of democracy as well as independence of the judiciary.
With substantial empirical data pointing towards the indisputable corruption of the judiciary by the electoral process, there has been a reasonable increment in the number of critics of judicial elections over the
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