Monday, Aug. 12, 2002
Poll: Money, Elections Worry U.S.
HOLLAND Associated Press Writerhttp://www.news.findlaw.com/ap/0/1110/8-12-2002/2002081200450203.html
(AP) - Americans love electing judges, but they worry that
campaign cash can
compromise a judge's principles, a new poll shows.
The findings of the
survey conducted for the American Bar Association and
being made public
Monday illustrate a paradox that hinders efforts to end
for the bench.
The ABA and other legal groups have long argued that
improve courts by getting the most qualified people as
judges and insulating
them from politics.
More than 80 percent of
state court judges face some elections, and those
races have gotten more
expensive. Federal judges are appointed by the
president, and some states
also have appointment systems.
At the ABA's convention, incoming
president Alfred P. Carlton Jr. was
announcing formation of a group to
explore alternatives. The panel does not
expect Americans to give up their
elections, he said, but it will look at
limits for campaigns to solve what
he sees as a public relations problem for
defuse the escalating partisan battle over America's courts,"
Three-fourths of those polled said they have more confidence in
elect than those who are chosen for them through appointments.
nearly the same proportion expressed concern about the impact of
fund raising on judges' impartiality.
"It's an enigma," said
Arthur Miller, a Harvard law professor who supports
based on candidates' qualifications. "The least we can
do is get out of this
buying of judgeships through campaign contributions."
About 40 states
have some type of judicial elections, and most of them limit
can say while campaigning. States are having to review their
after the Supreme Court struck down Minnesota's limits in June.
ruling opens the door for candidates to talk more freely about
issues such as abortion and school prayer.
The poll found that people
don't mind candidates speaking out. Six in 10
said that voicing an opinion
on an issue does not mean a contender will be
partial on the subject later
as a judge.
Another finding in the poll: Nearly two out of three
questioned said they
would put more trust in a judicial candidate who was
not affiliated with a
political party. The ABA said eight states have
partisan elections for all
trial court judges - Alabama, Illinois,
Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania,
Tennessee, Texas and West
Harris Interactive conducted the poll for the ABA, surveying
1,040 people by phone from Aug. 2-5. The poll has an error margin of plus or
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