Gavel Grab

Prominent Jurists Fault AZ Ballot Measure on Judicial Selection

“Let’s keep politics out of the judiciary,” retired Arizona Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor and Santa Cruz County Presiding Judge James A. Soto urge in a critique of Proposition 115, a ballot item to alter Arizona’s merit-based selection system for choosing judges.

The jurists’ op-ed in The Weekly Bulletin criticizes Proposition 115 as “a blatant attempt by the Legislature to inject politics into the judicial selection process and significantly change a system that has served our state well for over thirty-seven years.” Justice McGregor is a Justice at Stake board member.

Proposition 115 would allow the governor to choose among more judicial nominees and give the governor more power over judicial nominating commissions. To learn more details, see Gavel Grab.

Justice McGregor and Judge Soto take sharp issue with the proposal, contending it would bring harm to a system that has worked well, has drawn praise from retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and has been viewed as a model by groups including the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. Here is the heart of the jurists’ criticism:

“Proposition 115 would undermine the present merit-selection system for selecting judges and let politicians control the judicial selection process. It would give too much power to the governor and Legislature, whether Democrats or Republicans; would unnecessarily inject partisan political considerations into the selection of judges; and would impair the independence of the judiciary. By transferring power from the citizen nominating commissions to the governor, Proposition 115 increases the likelihood that a governor can appoint less-qualified judges.”

The ballot measure would apply to the merit-based system in place for choosing judges for the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and the trial courts in two of the state’s largest counties.

Backers of the changes say they would reduce the role of the state Bar and give more control to the governor.

No comments


No comments yet. Be the first.

Leave a reply