Judicial Elections: Should Judges Be Elected Or Appointed

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Judicial Election or Appointment? As Americans, we are taught and educated from a young age that the best form of government is one that we the people elect, a direct democracy. Direct democracies allow for citizens the obtain the most control over their government. We participate in direct democracies by voting for our president and other office officials. Since direct democracy allows citizens to have the most control over their government, it may seem like the best method of selection to elect our judges. In reality, judges who rely on re-election to retain their positions are often friendlier and appear more productive. Elected judges have to keep people happy, and they often do what most people in their jurisdiction think is best, due to the partisan and commercial pressures. However, the judicial branch often circumvents the function of our direct democracy by using judicial appointments instead of judicial elections. The members of the Judicial Branch are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the benefits and disadvantages of appointments have been heavily debated. Electing judges may seem instinctive within our democracy, but judicial appointments justifiably accomplishes the most critical goal of the judicial branch, to read and interpret the law.

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The appointed judges and justices serve no fixed term. They serve for life, until death, retirement, impeachment, or conviction by the Senate. The framers of the constitution believed that the judiciary should have “neither force nor will”, the judiciary would be the “least dangerous branch”, because they shall be completely isolated. The framers wanted the judiciary to be completed isolated because the only thing that should matter to the judge is his or her own attitudes, ideologies, and values. This insulates them from the provisional desires of the public and allows them to apply the law with only justice in mind, and not the political pressures in elections, such as: the heightened two-party competition, the constant change of nature within the supreme court, the increased spending in judicial races, and the increased interest group involvement in judicial campaigns. Although, judicial systems still vary from state to state, these pressures heavily affect elected officials.

Party competition is the battle of political parties for control of public offices. Our two- party system allows the political parties to dominate all political aspects in our democracy. One of these two parties typically holds the majority in legislature, leading as the governing party. While the other is known as the opposition party. States with intense party competition and established ideological identities tend to have high intensity within elections. Developing heightened two-party competition often leads to the parties conducting highly competitive elections. Relating to intensified two-party competition and campaigns, campaign spending in promoting judicial elections has increased as well. For a current example, the House in Congress has spent $272,097,721 as of October 30th for the 2020 electoral campaign. Corresponding with both heightened two party competition, campaigns, and spending coincides is the increased interest group involvement. Interest groups are a group of people that seek to influence public policy of common interest or concern in politics. Involvement with interest groups often comes in the form of direct contributions to the judicial candidates and independently organized campaigns in support of or opposition to the candidates.  

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