It never ceases to amaze me the cases that end up before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled this week that a West VA judge who received $ 3 million from his highest campaign donor cannot rule on a $50 million case involving the donor. It should have been a no brainer for the judge to recuse himself from any case involving that donor. Why that case ended up at the Supreme Court shows the utter lack of integrity on the part of the judge. Presiding over the donor’s case where the donor had $50 million at stake was incredulous. This could have been in a John Grisham novel. Yes, I always say fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.
Many argue that judges should not be elected. Yet the judicial election system should not be scrapped. Here’s why there is a need for state judges to be elected. First, the old boy system is still hard at work in America. Many highly competent and qualified minorities are never able to ascend to the bench without running in judicial elections. Some are routinely passed over for selection and appointment. Many minorities today would not be on the bench were it not for the judicial election process. They stand on the shoulders of judges who ran for election and won in times when they could not be appointed.
Having the judicial election system ironically prevents some bias. Remember, it is the Governor of the state who appoints state judges to the bench. There is inherent bias in the political appointment system, too. I’m sure campaign contributions to the governor play a role sometimes in the judicial appointments process.
Until we become a truly more diverse society, let the judicial elections stand.