In the wake of a Supreme Court decision about fundraising in judicial elections, more analysts are suggesting the only way to eliminate outside influence is to do away with judicial elections entirely.
In Williams-Yulee vs. The Florida Bar, the high court upheld a Florida ban on judicial candidates directly soliciting campaign money. Kendra Fershee, a law professor at West Virginia University, told the West Virginia Record that the ruling “attempts to maintain a firewall between judges and donors, and attempts to maintain some level of ethical clarity.” She added, “But really, as long as we have judicial elections, this system is going to be very imperfect.”
The 5-4 decision, with the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, has drawn widespread commentary.
The Philadelphia Daily News editorialized in favor of a switch to merit selection for judges. “Begging for, and receiving, money can compromise the neutrality and independence of judicial candidates – to say nothing of compromising justice itself,” it said.
“A fair and impartial jury is a cornerstone of our democracy, and this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a meaningful step in the right direction to helping us ensure access to justice in our courts,” wrote Mark Ferrulo of Progress Florida in a ContextFlorida opinion. “Florida needs reasonable restrictions on judicial campaign conduct to protect our courts from special interest influence and ensure the public that justice in Florida is not for sale to the highest bidder.”