Argument: Judges cannot voice their opinions, so how can voters decide?

Issue Report: Election of judges


Rod Dreher. “Should we elect judges?” Belief Net. June 9, 2009: “it’s very difficult to make an informed and intelligent decision about a judicial candidate on the ballot in an election. Politicians in other races make their opinions on issues, policies, etc. known clearly before an election, and a little careful reading and research is enough to permit a conscientious voter to select candidates he or she really supports. But judges aren’t even supposed to voice opinions on issues, as this could interfere with their need to be unbiased and impartial in deciding cases; and merely reading a judge’s campaign material provides little information. If he says he’s “tough on crime,” for instance, does that mean that he’s a death penalty advocate, something which I wouldn’t support, or that he’s committed to harsher sentences for repeat offenders in violent crimes, something which I would?

Even hours of research has sometimes left me with little sense of what a particular judge is really like–and I end up getting the sense that one is merely supposed to note the “R” or the “D” next to the judge’s name and vote accordingly. That may be fine for straight-ticket voters, but it doesn’t work for me. I take voting seriously, and won’t vote for someone I know little to nothing about; if information about judicial races in my area isn’t available, I often leave the ballot blank by those names.”