Home > B2 > Judiciary Concepts:Election Vs. Appointment for life

Judiciary Concepts:Election Vs. Appointment for life

Recently in my government class we addressed the policies of choosing federal judges, which grabbed my attention to analyze this concept further. To my knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, it states that the President, “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court” U.S. Constitution. This may be the policy but why should Judges be appointed by the President and not elected by the people, and why should federal judges be appointed for life
? Washington Post answers the question of why judges should be appointed not elected by saying, “Three in four Americans, most business leaders and nearly half of judges themselves believe that campaign cash is affecting courtroom decisions.” Washington Post This does draw the attention to the effects elections have on the men and women running for certain judicial positions. It would indeed affect the judge’s decision over which side they would favor in a case if money were involved. This fact alone raises enough concern to spark the controversy over Judges being elected. A related reason why the election of judges may be detrimental to their decisions in the courtroom would be that the people that elected that judge might affect their settlement on certain cases. The Nevada Sagebrush writes, “we can have elected judges that come directly from the people but can’t seem to make up their minds on what the law is while trying to please voters…” Nevada Sagebrush. Both of these reasons provide an ample argument against the election of judges and how it affects their decisions in the courtroom.

A way that the appointment of state judges is closely related to the election of judges is merit selection. Twenty-four states have used this to select their state judges. This process includes a nominating commission of a state to recommend candidates based on skill, dedication, and judgment and gives the names to the appointing authority of that state, which is usually the governor. This process of selecting state judges is closely related to the federal judge appointing process, both of which avoid the election of judges that may alter the work method of judiciaries. The issue of selecting federal judges for a life term is another interesting concept. The Constitution states that, “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior…” (Article 3 Section 1 U.S. Constitution). This implies the appointment for life if they do not cease to have good behavior, but why should they be appointed for life? The Federal Judges Association says, “The provision of life-time positions with salaries that cannot be decreased helps assure that the legislative and executive branches are unable to punish judges for unpopular judicial decisions.” FJA This statement gives the implication that, since their salaries and position cannot be taken from them without certain cause, judges are able to make

decisions that are not influenced by popular thought. In other words if their decision is deemed unpopular among the general public, they cannot be punished because the public is not in control of their position. FJA later states that, “Judges can therefore make their decisions without fear of being fired or losing a portion of their salaries.” FJA This is a valid reason for judges to be appointed for life. CNN gives similar opinions on the subject of life appointments. They say, “By appointing the justices to life terms, the framers of the Constitution attempted to insulate them from political pressure.” CNN. Though this process might raise protest on certain cases, it does ensure fair and rational judgment on these cases. These Constitutional conventions to guarantee less corrupt decisions in the judiciary branch of government are for sure the best way to avoid conflict. I do believe that these policies find the most qualified, judicial and shrewd justices to work as federal judges. The concepts of the judiciary branch of government are thought out and well planned to create an efficient subdivision of the United States government.

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