The League’s commitment to increase citizen understanding of the importance of our nation’s system of separation of powers and checks and balances provided for in the U.S. Constitution was highlighted during its recent 2006 Biennial Convention. A panel of distinguished jurists and academics addressed the full convention on the topic of MERIT SELECTION? ELECTIONS? APPOINTMENTS? UNDERSTANDING THE SYSTEM TO DEFEND THE COURTS.
by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
In her essay, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor shares her thoughts on the importance of a fair, impartial and independent judiciary at the national, state and local levels. She notes that close to 98 percent of the litigation in this country takes place in state courts, and most states select or retain their judges through partisan or non-partisan elections. Furthermore, in many states, judicial elections have turned into expensive, partisan political campaigns. The upcoming 2008 elections of state supreme court judges in several states is of grave concern in this regard. Justice O’Connor admits that it will not be easy to change the systems in those states where judges are elected, but she offers some steps that might be taken to improve the systems.