“Merit” Selection Fails to Remove Politics in Iowa
February 14, 2013
As if further proof were needed that “merit” selection has utterly failed to remove politics from Iowa’s judicial selection process, the Iowa City Press-Citizen is out with an editorial expressing surprise and disappointment that Republican Governor Terry Branstad appointed eight Republicans to the 16-member Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission (the other eight are appointed by legal elites from the Iowa Bar Association). The Press-Citizen also notes that during the 12 years Democrats held the governor’s office prior to Branstad’s election, “the [nominating] committee leaned very heavily Democratic.”
“We have a hard time believing,” the editorial snoops at the Press-Citizen solemnly intone, “that ‘party affiliation’ played no role in the governor’s selection process.” Well, duuuhhhh!
The idea that any process for choosing judges will be free from politics is the height of naiveté. The only question is whether politics will be hidden from public view – as it is in “merit” selection – or out in the open – as it is with democratic judicial elections. Every system for selecting judges is subject to politics and every system will produce both good and bad judges. The key is keeping them accountable to the people.