The motivation of voters to “clean house” this year is not only being felt by politicians on both national and state levels – it is also being felt by those who don black robes.
Judges in at least three states – Iowa, Illinois and Kansas – are targeted this fall for removal.
Until recently, judicial races have been an after-thought in politics, garnering little media coverage or voter interest. The assumption has always been that judges are well-insulated from political influence.
The liberal New York Times even opined, “Around the country, judicial elections that were designed to be as apolitical as possible are suddenly as contentious as any another race.”
Recent activist rulings levied against marriage by state and federal courts in Iowa and California – irrespective of the will of the people – have served as a catalyst for these ousting efforts.
‘THREE FOR THE ROAD’ IN IOWA
Despite the claims by politicos and pundits that “social issues are passé,” one need only look to Iowa for a wake-up call.
In April 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court, by a 7-0 decision, upheld District Court Judge Robert Hanson’s ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry in the state –setting off a firestorm with voters.
Chuck Hurley, executive director of the Iowa Family Policy Council, said the ruling was the final straw for Iowans.
“They usurped the state’s legislative and executive roles – as well as the voters – in one ruling,” Hurley said. “They clearly crossed the line constitutionally, morally, culturally and the voters of Iowa are listening.”
Now efforts are focused on unseating three of the seven judges on the state’s Supreme Court who are up for a retention vote: Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, along with Justices David Baker and Michael Streit.
Brian Brown, executive director of National Organization for Marriage, said pro-family groups realize that removing these judges will not resolve the same-sex marriage crisis; however it sends a very powerful message.
“If justices go outside the bounds of their oaths, if the justices go outside the bounds of the U.S. and state constitutions,” Brown said, “They’re going to be held accountable.”
Ed Whelan, constitutional scholar and president of the Ethic and Public Policy Center, wrote on National Review‘s “Bench Memos” on the day of the ruling:
“The lawless judicial attack on traditional marriage and on representative government continues.
“Amidst the opinion’s 69 pages of blather, there are two key assertions (and they’re nothing more than that):
(1) ‘(E)qual protection can only be defined by the standards of each generation.’ (p. 16)
“If you were not attuned to the deceptive rhetoric of living-constitutionalist judges, you would sensibly imagine that that proposition would mean that the court would defer to the standard of the current generation reflected in the statute that Iowa adopted in 1998. But no:
(2) ‘The point in time when the standard of equal protection finally takes a new form is a product of the conviction of one, or many, individuals that a particular grouping results in inequality and the ability of the judicial system to perform its constitutional role free from the influences that tend to make society’s understanding of equal protection resistant to change.’ (pp. 16-17)
THE SOROS FACTOR
Social conservatives are not the only ones spending money this election cycle on judicial races.
Liberal billionaire financier George Soros has been quietly orchestrating a transformation of the nation’s judicial selection process.
The end goal: Remove the voter from the selection process by having judges appointed, not elected.
A new study by the American Justice Partnership (AJP) revealed that at least $45 million has been poured into organizations, such as Justice at Stake, People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union, that are pushing for “judicial selection commissions.”
The AJP’s exhaustive study revealed that the despite conventional wisdom – that appointed judges are more impartial – the reality is quite different:
“…an exhaustive study by legal academics from NYU, Duke and Chicago that concluded, after reading some 30,000 opinions from all of the states’ supreme court justices over a three-year period that the “empirical results do not show appointed judges performing at a higher level than elected judges.”
“In addition,” they continued, “the elected judges do not appear less independent than appointed judges.”
Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for CitizenLink, said the notion that appointed judges are impartial or nonideological is fiction.
“In practice, nominations are controlled by liberal organizations in the vast majority of those states that do not hold competitive elections. And those liberal organizations push liberal judges,” he said. “So, it’s no surprise that we’ve ended up with a liberal judiciary in most states. The data in this report bear that out. It’s time to make the process more accountable to the people.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read Bruce Hausknecht’s blog, “Exposing the Left’s Control of Judicial Appointments.”
Read Bruce Hausknecht’s blog, “People: ‘We’re So Over Unaccountable Judges. We Want Elections.”
Read Bruce Hausknecht’s blog, “Judging the Iowa Supreme Court.”
Read the September 14 article by The Detroit News, “Billionaire Soros’ campaign to kill judicial elections.”