Opinion: Reforming Arkansas Judicial Selection is Ripe for Study

stock-footage-arkansas-flag-loopAfter Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently said it is time to rethink the popular election of state appellate judges (see Gavel Grab), a Russellville Courier op-ed agreed, saying this would make the appropriate topic of study for a blue-ribbon panel.

Roy Ockert, emeritus editor of The Jonesboro Sun, wrote in the op-ed that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling has changed the way political pressure and money can influence elected courts.

“In previous years [Arkansas] Supreme Court justices were fairly insulated from such political pressure. After all, they face election only once every eight years and, once elected, seldom face another opponent,” Ockert wrote.

“That has changed, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which said that special interest groups can raise huge sums from anonymous donors and spend the money to defeat certain candidates without being subject to the same sort of restrictions that individuals or political parties have.”

Ockert concluded, “We don’t need our judges to be chosen by anonymous special interest groups.”