22 September 2009

Judicial Retention Elections Sway Judges

A multi-jurisdictional study of judicial retention elections, like those held in Colorado, finds that these elections influence judicial rulings on hot button issues, despite infrequently causing judges to be removed from office. According to "new data on abortion cases decided by state supreme courts between 1980 and 2006 . . . retention elections encourage judges to respond to shifts in public opinion on hot-button issues such as abortion."

Another article looks at impeachment when used as a judicial selection tool. While the judicial impeachment literature focuses on the federal court system, this has been attempted in recent history in Colorado. Notably, the threat of impeachment can have an effect, even when a removal of a judge from office is not the means by which this happens, just as a retention election can have an effect on judicial behavior, even when judges are overwhelmingly retained in office.

No comments: