Whistling Past the Graveyard in Pennsylvania
July 2, 2012
Our friends at Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts – charter members of the Soros-bankrolled “merit” selection lobby – are still smarting from the defeat in the legislature (again) of their scheme to strip Pennsylvanians of their right to pick judges and hand the job over to a commission of political insiders. Citing a column by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Chris Mondics, PMC suggests that turning judicial selection into an insiders’ game will somehow make our public servants on the bench more ethical.
I’ve addressed this issue anecdotally here, and here. Mondics refers to a “convincing study by the American Judicature Society,” but I couldn’t readily find it. I did recall an August 2007 study published by the University of Chicago Law School which found “little empirical evidence” that judges appointed by “merit” selection are less vulnerable to political pressure and that “judges subject to partisan election have the highest independence.”
To repeat the point for the umpteenth time, every system of judicial selection will produce some judges that are good and some judges that are bad. But suggesting that ignorant voters are somehow disproportionately prone to picking corrupt judges – a consistent PMC theme – doesn’t strike me as a winning argument. Which may be why despite George Soros’s millions, the “merit” selection lobby keeps failing in Pennsylvania.