Arkansas Opinion: End Elections to Choose Appellate Judges

Amid debate over judicial selection reform in Arkansas (see Gavel Grab), a columnist focuses on what he sees as a “crazy” provision intended to protect fair and impartial courts. Better to scrap judicial elections entirely, he says, and replace them with merit selection of appellate judges.

Columnist John Brummett sums it up this way in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Under state ethics rules, a judge “must not know his campaign donors. Then he must disqualify from cases in which those campaign donors are parties.” Brummett opines, “I call it crazy as a betsy bug.”

The issue goes a lot deeper, he continues, because it is fundamentally inappropriate “to [subject] a judge to electoral politics.” Brummett explains, “We’re electing people to do a job they can’t do because of having to get elected. … The solution is simple. It’s to stop electing judges, at least at the appellate level. It is to make judgeship selection a matter of meritorious peer review and gubernatorial nomination and state Senate confirmation.”