Gavel Grab

Partisanship Gets New Blessing in Ohio

Ohio judicial races are taking a further step down the path of open politicization.

As of March 15, 2009, Ohio judges will  be allowed to advertise their political party affiliations during general elections, according to this Associated Press article.

The Ohio Supreme Court overturned a decade-old provision that made the general election officially nonpartisan in judicial races (although candidates sought and received party nominations).

The court did so partly because of a challenge in the 2004 elections, and partly to allow “transparency” in the role political parties play in judicial elections, according to Supreme Court assistant administrator Rick Dove.

The newest step follows a recent state Supreme Court decision to allow a 15% increase in contribution limits for judicial elections-an action taken shortly after the state’s million dollar race in 2008 for two Supreme Court seats. 

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5/15/08 – Going Back To Cali

California high court set to rule on gay marriage – Mercury News
The California Supreme Court will decide on legalizing gay marriage today. Stay tuned to Gavel Grab and Justice at Stake for updates.
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5/13/08- The Media Wrap Up

5 Gitmo detainees to face 9/11 capital case – The Miami Herald
Gitmo trials start up in June, and the death penalty is now in play.
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3/6/08 – Public Financing, Wanted All Over the Country

Judicial fairness at stake in ’08 – Park Rapids Enterprise
Many Minnesotans want the Judicial Elections to be . Here is an editorial that explains their position.

Maynard Favors Public Financing of Elections – The Intelligencer: Wheeling News-Register
West Virginia Justice Maynard has come out as a proponent for Public Financing in Judicial campaigns. This article has quotes from Justice Maynard that explain his stance

Judge seeks right to be openly political – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A Milwaukee Judge is challenging a Wisconsin rule that prohibits judges from being apart of a political party.

State Supreme Court takes up same-sex marriage – WTOP Radio
The District of Columbia will get one more crack at the controversial hand gun case. The second hearing will take place in two weeks.

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The Real Presidential Legacy

Last night’s State of the Union address, Bush’s last, was about legacy-building. But the President spent only a moment of his hour-long speech on a subject that could be his most enduring legacy of all, one that will have an impact long after troops are out of Iraq and the housing market has recovered – the makeup of the judicial branch.

Many of his nominees, Bush complained in the speech, are being “unfairly delayed.” He does have some trouble; he nominates divisive candidates, and the Senate Democrats resist. Last year, for example, Bush dropped the nomination of three judges when it was apparent that they would never be confirmed. And of course there were the events of 2004, when the country finally learned what the word “filibuster” meant. But these “delays” are relative – a glance through the records of Bush’s judicial nominations shows that many votes to confirm judges are unanimous. In a statement last November, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy reported that the Senate had confirmed more judges in 2007 than in the previous three years, in which Republicans had a majority.
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1/23/08 – GOP Primary Means Open Season on Judiciary, Special Interests in IL, WV SC Judge Investigates His Collegue, IA Gov. Lights a Fire Under the SC, Arson Charges Mysteriously Dropped for TX SC Justce

Fred Thompson Blasts Mike Huckabee on Abortion, Constitution Comments – Life News
Fred Thompson accused Mike Huckabee of using “code words for judicial activism”, to which Huckabee replied by stating he opposes liberal judicial activism and abhors the idea of unelected judges making decisions on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. And just so he didn’t feel left out, Mitt Romney made a statement that he, too believes that “unelected judges should not be the final arbiters on these important decisions which define who we are as a people.”

Lawyer’s deep pockets in Ill. judicial race raise hackles – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform weighs in on the effects of special interest fundraising in judicial elections.

Justice Seeks Probe in Massey Case – The Associated Press
Justice Larry Starcher sent a memo to the West Virginia Supreme Court administrator regarding serious ethical concerns over Chief Justice Maynard’s relationship with the chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co.

Iowa Gov. Tells High Court To Speed Gay Marriage Ruling – 365 Gay
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver requests that the state Supreme Court expedite its ruling on same-sex marriage and announces that legislative action will be taken if the courts rule in favor of same-sex marriage.

Texas grand jurors outraged by politics of justice – The LA Times
The Texas jury that convicted Republican Justice David Medina last week of arson is speaking out now that District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, also a Republican, dropped all charges against Medina.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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1/8/08 – 2008 GOP Candidates Hoard the Judicial Issues, Term Limits All Around, Dangerous Judicial Evaluation Commissions

Republicans Court Voters, Democrats Silent on the Courts – The Huffington Post
Why are the courts an issue for Republicans only? What do the Democrats think about the third branch of government?

Conservative activist will again try for term limits for judges – The Associated Press
Colorado conservative activist John Andrews is reviving his attempt to put term limits on state judges.

Weaver suggests term limits for Michigan Supreme Court judges – The Associated Press
Michigan Republican Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver wants to set an 8 year term limit for the bench.

Viewpoint: The inherent danger of judicial evaluation commissions – The Financial News & Daily Record – FL
Justice Charles T. Wells of the Florida Supreme Court lays out his objections to judicial evaluation commissions.

New Wash. state Supreme Court justice formally sworn in – The Associated Press
Debra L. Stephens is sworn in as Washington state’s newest Supreme Court Justice

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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JAS Daily News Monitor 12/10/07

Supreme Court to Review Courts’ Wartime Reach – The New York Times
The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Munaf v. Geren and Secretary of the Army v. Omar, both examining the U.S. federal courts role in preventing military officers from turing over U.S. citizens to Iraqi officials.

Republican lawmaker cries foul as Supreme Court drafts a redistricting plan – The Wisconsin State Journal
As Wisconsin considers rewriting legislative voting districts, conflicts arise between the state Supreme Court, the Republican-led Assembly and the Democratic-led Senate.

Is just one race out of 37 doing justice? – The O.C. Register
Approximately one third of Orange County’s judicial seats are up for election in 2008 but only one is being considered a real race.

Judge Wulle censured by commission – The Columbian
Washington state’s Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle was censured Friday for “demeaning, offensive and shocking” behavior at a training conference last year.

Ariz. Immigration Law Challenge Tossed – The Associated Press
U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake throws out a lawsuit seeking to stop a new immigration law from going into effect on January 1.

Illinois Supreme Court to post oral arguments on Web – The Associated Press
The Illinois Supreme Court announces they plan to broadcast oral arguments on their website starting next month.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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JAS Daily News Monitor 12/7/07

Panel OKs bill to televise open Supreme Court sessions – CNN Washington Bureau
The Senate Judiciary Committee approves a bipartisan bill that would put television cameras in the U.S. Supreme Court. The bill is not going unopposed by some Supreme Court Justices.

Task force to keep judge races in check – The Capital Times, Madison, WI
In the wake of recent highly politicized Supreme Court elections, State Bar President Tom Bastings has announced a new task force designed to monitor campaigns and help restore justice and integrity in the election process.

Commentary: The Supreme Court Must Rebuke Some of Louisiana’s Errant Prosecutors – and Start in Jena – Black America Web
As the U.S. Supreme Court hears Louisiana case on racial bias in the justice system, Judge Greg Mathis argues that greater Supreme Court intervention is needed to dismantle racial prejudices especially in the Jena six case.

Getting to know judges – The Kansas City Community News
The newly formed Kansas Commission on Judicial Performance will help inform voters on the judicial candidates and provide judges with evaluations designed to improve performance.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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JAS Daily News Monitor 12/6/07

Supreme Court Reconsiders Pivotal Louisiana Case on Racial Selection of Juries – The New York Times
The United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Snyder v. Louisiana, Allen Snyder’s final appeal for his claim that the jury selection in his death penalty trial was racially biased.

Justices Leery of Bush’s Guantanamo Stance – The Wall Street Journal
The United States Supreme Court hears Boumediene v. Bush. As with many recent cases, Justice Kennedy may hold the deciding vote.

Gitmo Goes to Court: The judiciary has no business managing how we fight wars abroad – The Wall Street Journal Editorial
In this article, David Rivkin and Lee Casey, who both served in the DOJ under Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., argue that if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to grant Guantanamo Bay detainees habeas rights, they would be expanding judicial power to an unprecedented level and dismissing the CSRT process as an acceptable habeas substitute.

State Supreme Court: A plus for fairness – The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial Board
Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire recently appointed Justice Debra Stephens, a judge representing Eastern Washington, to the State Supreme Court.

Elections still better way to choose judges – The Decatur Daily
This editorial argues that while judicial elections have their setbacks, ultimately campaign contribution transparency is a better solution and keeps the judges accountable to the voters.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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