While the nation is engulfed in the Supreme Court hearings on Obamacare, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has been touring the country – most recently in Greenville, SC – to continue campaigning for her favorite pet issue: abolishing elections for state judges. Her quest, simply put, is to eliminate the right of the voters to decide their judges. She will not sleep, nor apparently let you; as evidenced by her 1am robocall to Nevada voters to gain support on this issue, until the most common method for selecting state judges is replaced by a method that is dominated by liberal trial lawyers.
Currently, 22 states use elections to choose judges, 13 states use the Missouri Plan, 5 use Democratic appointment, and 10 use a hybrid method.
O’Connor bemoans judicial elections, complaining that the amount of money spent campaigning for judicial races is "an embarrassment" to the country. However an empirical study conducted Professor Christopher Bonneau, a respected expert on judicial elections, demonstrates that despite O’Connor’s rhetoric against campaign spending, it is quite valuable to voters. Bonneau's study shows that campaign spending engages and mobilizes voters, and these voters are educated about the candidates and their records. The research rebuts all of O'Connor's bombastic language.
O’Connor prefers a method she refers to as a “merit system” – which many refer to as the Missouri Plan – for choosing judges. She boasts that she helped bring this "merit system" to Arizona as a state legislator. By using this terminology, O’Connor demonstrates her 26 year Washington D.C. pedigree. Naturally, use of the word “merit” invokes good feelings, and one may assume (erroneously) that this method permits those most qualified and deserving a place on the bench. However, nothing could be further than the truth. Just as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would be more aptly titled the Destroy Healthcare, Destroy Small Businesses, and Raise Premiums Act, “merit system” would be more aptly titled “guaranty that liberal judges are on the bench and trial lawyers get their way system.”