To the editor:
You may be interested to learn about a piece of anti-democratic legislation making its way through the State Senate and House. SF1082 and the companion HF1083 is a proposed amendment to the state constitution which will take away our right to meaningful, contested judicial elections. The bill authorizes retention elections, in addition to a pair of unelected and unaccountable commissions. Judges will be appointed by the governor from a list of candidates nominated by a merit selection commission, while a judicial performance evaluation commission will be set up to review and evaluate judges.
Retention elections mean that judges are always appointed so they are never elected. Voters are only allowed to remove a seated judge from office. If a judge loses a retention election, his replacement is again appointed. Therefore, voters never elect their judges. Impeachment is a more accurate term to use than election.
If this bill passes both chambers, the irony of the situation is we the people would then vote on whether we want to give away our right to vote for judges since proposed constitutional amendments have to be ratified by the people.
It is also interesting to note that Senator Kathy Sheran was one of five senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee which recently recommended to pass the Senate version of this bill. The bill will now be taken up by the Committee on Rules and Administration. Senator Sheran's constituents in Nicollet County and the Mankato area should contact her, respectfully voice their disapproval of her vote and tell her they want to keep their right to vote for judges.
Please contact your state legislators (Torkelson, Dahms, etc.) and let it be known that you value your right to vote for judges in meaningful, contested elections. Ask your neighbors to do the same. Let's stop this undemocratic legislation before it is too late!
I certainly could write more on this issue but for now I will leave readers with a quote from Thomas Jefferson which I find to be very relevant to this issue:
"It has been thought that the people are not competent electors of judges learned in the law. But I do not know that this is true, and, if doubtful, we should follow principle. In this, as in many other elections, they would be guided by reputation, which would not err oftener, perhaps, than the present mode of appointment." - Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.