Breaking something that was already fixed:
The system, in place for a decade now, has helped North Carolina avoid the highly partisan, multimillion-dollar judicial campaigns seen in other states. It has minimized the influence of special interests over our courts. Unfortunately, some politicians apparently want special interests and partisanship to play a bigger role in our system of justice. So, I'm going to take a guess at Berger's likely response to the judges: Who cares what you think?
I had a brief but energetic debate with Doug Clark a few years ago about judicial elections, which I'm pretty sure I lost. My position was that returning the partisan designation would give voters a little more information to help them decide, but by the end of the conversation I was no longer so sure that would improve the judiciary. The bottom line is, whatever other issues Doug and I may disagree over, he's usually spot-on when it comes to judicial matters, and this one is no different:
One objective of the program was to provide judicial candidates with an alternative source of “clean” funding so they did not need to rely so heavily on those who appear in their courtrooms. The program has replaced a dependency on self-interested money with public-interest money.
· Before the program began, judicial candidates in the 2002 general election received 73% of their non-family campaign money from attorneys, special-interest PACs or political committees
· This figure dropped to 14% for the 12 candidates who qualified to receive public support in the 2004 general election and has remained low since then.
And for those in the general public who have been influenced by the meme that they shouldn't be forced to pay for a candidate's campaign against their will:
The Public Campaign Fund receives its income from two sources, which are sufficient to pay for grants to the candidates and mail 4 million Judicial Voter Guides to all households in the state.
· The $3 voluntary check-off on the NC tax form generates $1.1 million a year for the Fund.
· The $50 surcharge on the dues paid by attorneys also generates about $1.1 million a year.
The $3 voluntary check-off appears on the state income-tax form, but research shows that more than half the taxpayers are not aware of it, often because they are not asked the question by their tax preparer or they miss it on electronic and paper forms. Beginning in 2006, attorneys were required to pay a $50 surcharge on their dues to the State Bar. Attorneys in the NC General Assembly sponsored this addition because attorneys have a special obligation to protect the integrity of the court system; indeed, their livelihood depends on the public’s trust in the courts.
For the Libertarians out there, maybe you can answer one question: do you think your liberty will be "enhanced" if the Justices reviewing your case are wondering where their next campaign fundraiser will be held? I didn't think so.