Kansans are asking, "Why should the lawyers have such extraordinary control over the selection of judges who will then rule on cases brought by the lawyers who gave them their jobs?" Nine other states allow their licensed attorneys to select some of the nominating commission members, but 41 states either give the lawyers no power in the initial selection of state supreme court justices or balance the lawyers' role with commissioners chosen by democratically elected public officials.
We hear a lot of talk today about the need for an "independent" judiciary. We do need a state judiciary that is independent of the attorneys and their special interests, especially trial lawyers.
Kansans in Johnson County have discovered they have the right to change their procedure and elect their judges. To put this proposition on the ballot, they collected 14,000 signatures, twice the number required.
A judicial activist on the Wisconsin Supreme Court felt the wrath of voters in April when he became the first justice ousted by voters there in 41 years. Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who had appointed him, called the negative campaign for that seat a "tragedy," but the real tragedy is when voters have no say-so in combating the judicial tyranny. Many important issues face state court judges in addition to school funding. Same-sex marriage was decided by only one vote in the highest courts of five states. It's unlikely that any judge elected by the people would declare the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, as some life-tenured federal judges have done and could do again.
We've got a better chance of sticking with the will of the American people if state judges are elected rather than appointed by lawyers who have an interest in winning big-verdict cases before those very judges.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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