Opinions: Efforts to Politicize State Courts Mirror Washington

The parallels between efforts to politicize the nation’s highest court in Washington — in the fight over a Supreme Court vacancy — and similar political efforts to influence state courts are getting more attention from analysts.

Kansas has been an increasingly contentious battleground, especially with legislation advancing to expand the legal grounds for impeachment of state Supreme Court justices (see Gavel Grab). In The Garden City Telegram, Julie Doll writes about that effort and says, “At both the state and federal level, politicians are working to make sure that judges do their bidding in court.”

A stalemate between Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and the Democratic-led state Senate over a state Supreme Court nomination by Christie (see Gavel Grab) has also sparked analogies with the struggle in Washington, where leading Senate Republicans are refusing to consider the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

In The Asbury Park Press, state Sen. Christopher Bateman, a Republican, writes, “This stonewalling is about partisan politics, not good government.” He adds, “The dangerous partisan gamesmanship is now overflowing to the state’s lower courts, where vacancies are piling up and a raft of judges are awaiting the renominations and reconfirmations they will require to continue working.”