Can our court system be gerrymandered? If there's a will there's a way.
HB 222 will change elections for the State Supreme Court and the State Court of Appeals. Under this bill, judges currently serving on these courts could choose to run, or not run, for reelection. If running for reelection, the citizen’s choice on the ballot would simply read, Vote to Reelect, or Vote not to Reelect.
That’s right. Under RETENTION ELECTIONS, a judge already on the court runs UNOPPOSED for reelection on a NON-PARTISAN BALLOT. UNOPPOSED. No choice between candidates. If the largest number of votes came back Do Not Reelect, another election would be held to choose between 2 candidates.
There has been talk for many years regarding how to manage judicial elections. Some view this change as a small, but necessary, start to lessen the politics in judicial elections. Some think any change is better than no change. It seems public financing of judicial elections, to cut the political connections and lessen fund raising, was not acceptable to Republicans, but this particular change is. Why?
Let’s see how upcoming elections would turn out given who is already on the Supreme Court.
REPUBLICAN Judge Robert H. Edmunds would run UNOPPOSED for reelection in 2016.
REPUBLICAN Judge Barbara Jackson would run UNOPPOSED for reelection in 2018.
REPUBLICAN Judge Paul Newby would run UNOPPOSED for reelection in 2020.
And, presumably, DEMOCRATIC Judge Sam J. Ervin IV would run unopposed for reelection in 2020.
Given the power of incumbency, this Retention Election method would effectively gerrymander our State Supreme Court as a Republican fiefdom for the indefinite future. The bill has passed both houses of the legislature and may have even been signed already by the governor.
Personally, I don't like it.