judicial elections

  • July 13, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    Partisan Justice, a new ACS study conducted by independent researchers at Emory University School of Law, finds that the upward spiral of big money fundraising and aggressive politics in state judicial elections pressures judges to become partisan actors who favor their own party in deciding election disputes.

    In Huffington Post, Zeba Blay reflects on the year since Sandra Bland’s senseless death, concluding that the #SayHerName campaign, which seeks to bring attention to the black women who have died after police encounters, is as important as ever.

    Kenneth Jost at Jost on Justice says police departments must “make meaningful changes in their policies and practices to protect and serve all, without regard to race.”

    In a huge victory for same-sex couples, the Court of Appeals of Maryland last Thursday ruled “that non-biological and non-adoptive parents who help raise children are eligible for recognition as ‘de facto’ parents with full parental rights,” reports Lou Chibbaro Jr.at Washington Blade

  • April 8, 2016
    Guest Post

    by Sean Aronson, president, ACS student chapter at University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law

    The Hawaiian Kingdom existed as a sovereign nation for nearly one hundred years (1795 – 1893) before the United States overthrew the Kingdom in an illegal, bloodless coup d’├ętat. Although the United States apologized for this illegal act in 1993, to date the U.S. has not offered any compensation or redress for it. The overthrow still casts a long shadow in Hawaii and divides the people, with some who question the state judiciary as a legitimate body. Just last month Native Hawaiians met to form an independent government with a separate constitution.

    On November 27, 2015, First Circuit Court Judge Jeanette Castagnetti issued a ruling, ordering the state legislature to provide sufficient funding to the State Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) which is constitutionally mandated to “enable native Hawaiians to return to their lands in order to fully support self-sufficiency for native Hawaiians.” Judge Castagnetti ruled legislators would have to make available $18 million to DHHL this year to comply with Article XII of the Hawaii State Constitution, which requires the legislature to “make sufficient sums available” for the department’s administrative and operating budget. Many legislators viewed this decision as an intrusion into their legislative powers and sought retaliation through a series of proposed bills attacking the judiciary.

    The attacks began with a judicial elections bill that proposed open voting on judicial positions by the general electorate. The subsequent hearing saw Hawaii’s tight-knit legal community come out strong in opposition. After a meeting to discuss strategy, Richardson School of Law ACS chapter and individual students submitted testimony in opposition to the open elections initiative. The bill was defeated on the senate floor, but the struggle continued through an attack on the retention process. The senate quickly pushed through a bill that would require a senate hearing for every judicial reappointment. The proposed bill also required a reappointment hearing every six years, instead of the present 10 years. That bill was also defeated.

  • February 9, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    In The New York Times, Ekow N. Yankah contrasts society’s sympathetic response to the current epidemic of heroin addiction plaguing white neighborhoods with the criminal treatment of crack addiction that crippled communities of color in the 1980s, noting “the heroin epidemic shows that how we respond to the crimes accompanying addiction depends on how much we care about the victims of crime and those in the grip of addiction.”

    At The Root, Premilla Nadasen blasts the blatant disregard for black children in many state welfare policies, citing a recent report that exposes Mississippi’s racially discriminatory distribution of child care subsidies.

    Saru M. Matambanadzo discusses the complicated history of legal personhood at Race and the Law Prof Blog, opining that legal personhood is merely a starting point for “relief and recognition,” but does not guarantee it.

    Lincoln Caplan at The New Yorker examines proposals to move away from retention elections and institute partisan elections of Kansas Supreme Court justices, concluding that such elections “often make judges indistinguishable from politicians, and judging indistinguishable from politics.”

  • November 9, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    At Reuters, Lawrence Hurley reports that the Supreme Court has declined an appeal to determine whether or not police need to obtain search warrants before accessing cellphone location information maintained by wireless carriers.

    In The New York Times, Michael D. Shear writes about a growing group of voting rights activists called iVote who are working to make voter registration “automatic whenever someone gets a driver’s license.”

    At Moyers & Company, John Light discusses the troubling influence of dark money in Pennsylvania’s recent judicial elections and cites ACS’s “Skewed Justice” report to highlight the long-term impact such funds can have on criminal cases.

    Tom Jawetz and Sanam Malik at the Center for American Progress explain why attacks against birthright citizenship undermine the Fourteenth Amendment and contradict the core principles of our democracy. 

  • November 2, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    In The New York Times, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Robert Gebeloff expose efforts by a Wall Street-led coalition of credit card companies and retailers to block class action lawsuits in favor of private arbitration.

    In part two of The New York Times arbitration series, Silver-Greenberg and Gebeloff explain how forced arbitration buried in contracts that most individuals never read is creating an “alternate justice system” in America, quoting Myriam Gilles, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, who says that “this amounts to the whole-scale privatization of the justice system.”

    Elsewhere in The New York Times, Larry D. Thompson urges the Supreme Court to meaningfully enforce the ban on racial discrimination in jury selection.

    Christie Thompson at The Marshall Project asks if current judicial elections in Pennsylvania provide the perfect storm necessary for reforming the manner in which the state’s judges are selected.