Take Heed: Voters Defend the Judiciary

Article excerpt

The conclusion of the recent election is worthy of serious reflection by all Americans and also offers sound instruction to the institutions and organizations we serve. My teachers long ago instilled in me the enduring lesson that as Americans, voting is the most basic of the precious rights and liberties we hold dear under our Constitution. Indeed, voting reflects who we are and goes to the very heart of our participatory democracy. Although there are arguably various degrees in which we vote, such as with our feet when we walk away from situations that have ceased to represent our values, or sometimes by doing nothing at all, no method is as effective and empowering as the ballot.

We at AJS are pleased that voters in three states (Arizona, Florida, and Missouri) rejected proposed ballot measures that would weaken merit selection systems. In two other states (Florida and Iowa), voters used their ballots to retain politicallytargeted judges whose only sin to those opposing them was that in the performance of the judges' constitutional duties, a particular result was reached which ran counter to special interest group policy preferences.

For almost 100 years, AJS has fought for the maintenance of a competent and independent judiciary. This remains our cause. Our efforts today to prevent political ideology from overrunning the bench and to choose methods best designed to ensure quality in the courtroom and on the bench represent the continuation of a worthy struggle.

Elections have consequences, as do our failures to heed the lessons behind and before us. The recent elections clearly demonstrate that Americans are changing the ways we think, interact, look, and communicate. …