Saturday, April 28, 2012

Is it Really Inappropriate for Judicial Candidates to Discuss Issues?

While on the campaign trail for my candidacy against Judge James Cox, I keep hearing judges claim to inquiring audiences that they cannot discuss any legal issues. Garbage! I don't know if they are saying that because they do not want to reveal to the voters how they feel about their service, or intended service, to the Republic, where the people are sovereign, or if they do not have the facility to comprehend their role and to coherently express it. Let's discuss the law of the matter, since that is what one would hope judges deal with!

First off, you all will recall the noisy, opinion and facts driven discussions in the senatorial grillings of U.S. Supreme Court nominees, which are televised, and written about, and reported widely. Those nominees discuss everything about their views of the Republic and of the law; they just do not discuss things currently or likely to come before the High Court. But you have little question about their views of the system and of legal issues when it is all over. And that applies to candidates for judicial election in this state: the same canons apply.

Everyone running for election for a judgeship are governed by the same canons, whether they be sitting judges or attorneys seeking the public's support to become a sitting judge.
So, the rules: "A candidate...shall not (1) make statements...that commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that could come before the courts, or (2) knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or any other fact concerning the candidate or his or her opponent."

"Commitments" cannot be made; that is a far cry from the frequent claim that one cannot discuss, generally, legal or constitutional issues.

The problem with all of this is that there is a growing elitism among those on the bench and among some of those seeking positions on the bench, in a Republic from which governmental elitism was evicted in 1776. Those in government [and the judiciary is government!], while mouthing constitutional and founding pieties, sometimes with misty eyes, really have no interest in truly embracing popular sovereignty nor in recognizing the founding proposition that power resides in the people, and they despise the truism that those chosen to exercise the public's power are servants, not masters. That being the case, too many of them, especially judicial candidates, do not want to reveal to the voters the extent to which they are [or are NOT!] committed to the notion of popular sovereignty.

So, when an inquiring voter asks what a judge or candidate thinks, philosophically, about, say, jury nullification, or reasonable bail, or gun rights, etc., the candidate is fully entitled to answer in generalities that reveal how he or she view the Constitution; "commitments" cannot be made, but wide-ranging comments are proper and should be demanded by the voters. That is because another portion of the rules provides that "Judges are entitled to entertain their personal views on political questions. They are not required to surrender their rights or opinions as citizens."

Commitments, and association with obviously inappropriate political-viewpoint organizations [don't attend a KKK, or communist "overthrow the government," rally, for instance, even if not speaking!], are what is prohibited; temperately informing those whom you are asking to give you their power is not!

So, if you are faced with statements by one of the groups of judges running around the county to protect their chums from being voted out of office [and implicitly to protect themselves from future electoral attacks], or by a candidate or sitting judge, that they are prohibited from commenting on constitutional issues in general terms, you should recoil from their elitist claims and you should use that "I can't tell you what I think" as a confession that they do not deserve your support and vote.

Because of that contra-constitutional judicial elitism, among so many other things, I am runningfor Seat Number 2, against Judge James Cox, and I need your support. And I am neither too cowardly nor too fog-brained to inform you exactly who and what I am. We get the government that the voters give us, and our judiciary has fallen from being among the best in the country to becoming one of the worst due to unwise electoral and gubernatorial choices over the past 30 years. Let us reverse that degenerating trend; support me and you will see the difference.


  1. So as the electorate we are asked, by many of these jurists to elect them based on what? If it is not to be based on their idealogical position as to legal matters, then it could only be based on such important characterisitics as, money, name recognition, law school or maybe just beauty. This directly contradicts and informed decision.

    Before we vote for ANY office, we should carefully evaluate the candidates position on the issues for which they will be serving. If one is voting for a MAyor, one should know how they plan on running the town or city, dog catchers should be evaluated on how they intend on treating strays vis a vis your own position, and Judges should let us know their bias so we may decide if such temperment is one which the electorate supports.

    Mr. Kennedy is correct that for a candidate to skirt the issue of how they feel about basic legal issues, say the Bill of Rights, deprives us of meaningful choice.

    1. Yes, this recurring "gosh, I'd like to tell you what I think about [the Republic, the Constitution, judicial duties where the people are sovereign, etc.] but I am not allowed to do so" is utter balderdash: there is no such rule. Any judge or judicial candidate who says that deserves to have the people vote against them. Unless the voters can make a knowing choice, they really cannot make any choice, and yet elections are supposed to be about choice.

  2. One of the biggest problems here, in the current race for judgeships, is that the sitting judges are treating their offices as fiefdoms of personal entitlements instead of public service posts to be periodically re-assigned by those with the power to govern [represented by voters]. So, they think they do not need to reveal why they deserve their positions - they think they are due the positions. In other words, we are seeing the same sort of governmental arrogance that was part of the reason for the wide-spanning events associated with 1776.


Be civil, intelligent, and non-confrontational.