The news last week that three Iowa State Supreme Court Justices lost retention votes and were turned out of office primarily as a result of having ruled that Iowa's marriage laws could not legally discriminate against same sex couples is a disturbing blow to the concept of an independent judiciary. The notion that protetcion of my basic rights could be subject to the popular whim of the electorate is more than disturbing. I have never understood how the election of judges fit in with the concept of an independent judiciary (in Connecticut, trial and appellate judges are appointed and subject to re-appointment by the legislature). It is certainly a topic worthy of discussion in class. The Georgia Civil Justice Foundation has produced a video on judicial elections. I am not sure that I am entirely convinced by the video's presentation that election of judges can be monitored effectively by public awareness of the issues and the sources of campaign funds. However, the video is useful to introduce the topic and the issues as a discussion starter. The GCJF has produced a number of videos exploring issues in the civil justice system. I highly recommend them to you. they play easily from the website and are generally well received in class.
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