Monday, May 14, 2012

Who Says Judicial Candidates Can't Speak Out???

On the campaign trail, I keep hearing judges and judicial candidates claiming that those running for judicial office are not allowed to explain their understandings and views of the Constitution or of their roles in the Republic, etc. Hogwash!
Those saying that either don't want the public whose vote they are seeking to know exactly what they believe, or they don't know the law and the ethics of judicial service/candidacy. Either or both of those should invalidate their candidacy and should push all voters into another's corner on election day.

First off, it needs to be understood that the sovereigns of this Republic are the people, not the government, a notion that displeases some elitist Tories still hanging about, some of whom have been supporting my opponent. And the state Constitution mandates that trial judges run for contested election by those sovereigns every 6 years - a full, robust, contested election, not a flaccid retention matter that applies to appeals judges.

Secondly, the Canons of Judicial Ethics expressly recognize that "Judges [and judicial candidates] are entitled to entertain their personal views on political questions. They are not required to surrender their rights or opinions as citizens." Therefore, they are not allowed to "make statements ... that commit [themselves] with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that could come before the courts...," or engage in political activity "that may create the appearance of political bias or impropriety," but otherwise they can speak out and share. When you think about the hubub over U.S. Supreme Court nominees, who have the same canons, you realize there is little that judicial candidates cannot discuss - unless they want to hide their views from the electing public!

If any judge or candidate says he or she cannot share their thoughts with you, vote for someone else. Or vote for me anyway, for Office No. 2, Superior Court in Riverside County.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, even though supreme court nominees answer far more questions than many of the current crop of hopeful electees, experts on the question do not think even that is enough. As one of the great U.S. Constitution scholars Vikram Amar, an associate dean at UC Davis Law School, has opined [about the limited answers of supreme court nominees]: "I have ... written at length that such specific questions are necessary and proper to educate the Seante and the nation about whether a nominee ought to be confimed...." Even more so when those asking the questions are the electorate for a contested seat. We cannot make commitments, but we can inform the public about the issues and about our views of the law and of the Constitution, or else we do not deserve the public-assigned power to decide matters in the public's name.


Be civil, intelligent, and non-confrontational.