Poll: State supreme court justices should be elected

By Chris Rizo | Jul 16, 2008

Dan Pero

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-American voters say state supreme court justices should be elected rather than be appointed by governors or commissions, a poll indicates.

The survey commissioned by the Lansing, Mich.-based American Justice Partnership Foundation found that 75 percent of voters say they think state Supreme Court justices should be elected, while 21 percent think they should be appointed.

"While the American Justice Partnership Foundation takes no official position on this question, we believe the decision to abolish the peoples' right to select state supreme court justices - a right enshrined in many state constitutions - should not be taken lightly," AJPF President Dan Pero said in a statement.

Currently, 21 states hold elections and 24 states use a nominating commission/appointment process, the rest rely on gubernatorial or legislative appointment for state high court justices.

The survey also found that while voters support electing judges, 53 percent of respondents said they do not think that public financing of their campaigns is a good idea, compared to 43 percent who said they support the idea.

Additionally, the majority of respondents said they believe trial lawyers should be barred from donating to judicial campaigns.

"Our hope is that the results of this survey will help state leaders better understand the will of the people as they wrestle with the important question of how best to select justices for the highest state courts," Pero said.

The survey of 808 U.S. registered voters by the polling firm of Ayres, McHenry & Associates was conducted between May 27 and June 1. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3.45 percentage points.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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