Disadvantages of Election of Judges
In the state of Texas, judges are selected by the means of direct, partisan elections. They run for office politically, as Republicans or Democrats. The public then elects them into office. This selection procedure is done exactly the same way as that of election of members of the legislature. While this method makes judges more accountable to voters and the people get to choose the candidates they want after close scrutiny, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. There is a lot of disapproval of this method of choosing judges (Langenegger 430). The method negatively affects the sobriety of judges’ decisions. This is because judges are compelled to make decisions that are intended to please the voters. They less often pass judgments that according to the law. When making judgments, Judges are expected to adhere to the law. The opinion of the voters is not important. In this case, since the judges went out and campaigned, they made promises to the voters in a bid to get the votes. When they get to office, they are obliged to work by the voter’s wishes and therefore their decisions are influenced externally. This may result in injustices against a section of society.
The system also renders judges less self-determining. Judges have to run for reelection. This means that they need to have money for the campaigns. They end up soliciting for donations from many sources. This eventually makes them less independent as they seek to please their funders. The decisions they make at work may be skewed in favor of their donors. Many donors also fund such campaigns with vested interests in the legal system. When the judge finally gets to office, the donors get the favors they expect from the legal system. This is tantamount to purchasing the legal system or the legal system being up for grabs to the highest bidder. Judges therefore become less independent as they try to please people or institutions that donate money to them.
Selection of judges is done by voting. Chances of a judge taking up office therefore highly depend on a candidate judge’s ability to appeal to the public. This renders the quality of the judge less influential during the selection process. A judge’s legal qualifications may not matter since a judge is selected mainly due to popularity or public appeal. This process may also result in less fairness due to the influence of the campaign donors and funders. Those people who are known to have voted against a judge may not get justice. The majority predominant communities win many elections. Therefore, the minorities may also fail to get fairness when the majority has their way (Maxwell, William Earl, and Crain 437). When candidates from the majority section of the society are elected to the bench, those who can do the job but come from the minority fail to be elected, resulting in under-representation of the minorities.
Whenever voting has been used to select judges, just like when the technique is used to select leaders, the perception of fairness from the system dwindles. People from the losing camp and their supporters tend to read mischief in the decisions of those in the winning camp. Those who win may also take advantage of the guarantee of their positions to make unfair, punitive or revenge motivated judgments against those who did not support them. This reduces the hopes of fairness for a section of society a mere mirage. The campaign process also involves lobbying and making of promises by the candidates (Maxwell et. al. 439). In many cases, the public who are going to vote may be misinformed. They remain oblivious of the intentions of candidates and their financiers, and may be swayed by ethnicity, cultural or historic ties to the contestants to vote for unsuitable people. This greatly diminishes the credibility of this method in selecting good judges.
Brown, Lyle C., and Joyce A. Langenegger. Practicing Texas Politics. 2013-2014 ed. New York: NYP, 2014. Print.
Maxwell, William E, and Ernest Crain. Texas Politics Today. St. Paul: West Pub., 1978. Print.