Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Questionnaires allowed to Indiana judges
An Indiana federal court ruled yesterday that judicial candidates can answer questionnaires concerning their position on various issues. (Thank God for the headline, which disentangled the nasty negative-laden first line describing what happened. "...granted an injunction against rules preventing...") Previously, candidates weren't allowed to make "pledges or promises" about their future conduct or "commit or appear to commit" themselves to positions on certain issues. On the one hand, voting for a candidate without knowledge of their stance on the issues seems to be a bit odd. On the other, I'm not certain the founders wanted cases to be tried by popular vote. Dana, I know we talked about this issue a bit this last weekend, I'm curious as to the legal side of this. I know you mentioned something to the effect of what the original Indiana law held.
Eliminating elections altogether from the judicial process is probably the best answer. Russ Sobel and Josh Hall find that states with appointed judges have better judicial systems than those who elect judges, though most of the difference between the two is due to the fact that partisan elections are particularly bad. Indiana elects their judges but in a nonpartisan manner (thus the questionnaires to extract party-like information). For what it's worth, Indiana is actually tied for the 6th in the state judicial system rankings.
In related Indiana news, my mom sends along this story of self-regulating nuns at the polls.