Just Shut Up and Vote “Yes”
October 10, 2012
A prime example of what I’ve called the Big Lie about retention elections – namely the notion that the only legitimate reason for voters to pull the “no” lever on a judge is gross incompetence or corruption – is on display by the Soros-financed blog of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. The piece concedes that judges must be “accountable to voters and continue to serve at the will of the people.” But, “threatening non-retention demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the judiciary, undermines the court’s ability to do its job, and does more harm than good.”
“This is not to say,” we’re assured,
“that the people are not free to express their dissatisfaction with the judiciary or individual decisions made by specific judges. However, the appellate process is the correct mechanism to address issues with individual decisions, not campaigning (or threatening to campaign” against retention.”
The problem here, of course, is that the appellate process is open only to the litigants in a specific case. It provides absolutely no recourse to average voters whose lives are impacted by the rulings of activist judges who routinely exceed their authority by legislating from the bench.
Everyone agrees, as this post suggests, that the role of a judge is to “act as a fair and impartial adjudicator,” not to “make decisions on individual cases based on political expediency.” The question is, who gets to decide if they are fulfilling this role properly? In a democracy, that “who” is the people – and they should be free to pass judgment on the judges who serve them without being bullied by elites who would prefer the people to just shut up and vote “yes” on all judges in all retention elections.