In a recent op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, law professor Jessica Levinson argues that voters shouldn’t be electing judges since many aren’t sufficiently informed about the candidates. Should judges be elected by the populace, or appointed by officials? We debate the issue.

Jessica Levinson, associate clinical professor teaching election law at Loyola Law School and vice president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission
Scott Gaylord, associate professor of law at Elon University School of Law

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Appointed by officials? One need only look at the Supreme Court of the United States to see how well that works. I prefer citizens elect their judges, and that we have judges that look at the bigger picture while be Constitutionally minded.

    Bigger picture meaning not being prison happy, but creative in finding ways to redeem non violent offenders which is cheaper than prison in the long run. Some of the best judges have been those who are hands on, and active in working to create non prison sentencing solutions.

  • trite

    Citizens know very little about the people who are up for election. I think we need to appoint–but the nominees should be chosen and appointed by panels of their peers and politicians should be kept at arm’s length–otherwise the judiciary becomes purely political. The Supreme Court is full of political creatures.

    • friarslantern

      I agree. I don’t think they read my email, but I said:

      If we are worried about special interests influencing voters in electing judges,
      having politicians appoint them is a last resort. Instead, form temporary,
      one-time, randomly-chosen, well-paid juries of citizens — either chosen
      randomly or elected — whose sole job would be to study the candidates and make
      a decision – then be discharged from their job.
      These days we need to be more creative in our approaches to
      problems like this.

  • Lance

    I’m all for experts in their field screening applicants for a job. Without the election process, I’d like to know what will keep the people in the process honest and accountable?

  • Another Mike

    One federal judge had the power to eliminate executions in California. Should one — appointed, not elected — judge have such sweeping veto power?

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