Arizona marks the 40th anniversary this year of its adoption of merit selection for choosing appellate judges and Superior Court judges in its largest counties. In an Arizona Republic op-ed earlier this year, Why Arizona has some of America’s best judges, Chief Justice Scott Bales says the system has “allowed Arizona’s judiciary to earn a national reputation for fairness, efficiency and innovation.”
Retired U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor was one of the architects of Arizona’s model judicial merit selection system when she was in the Arizona legislature. O’Connor continues to be a national advocate for judicial merit selection, leading a campaign to persuade states to choose judges on the basis of merit, rather than their ability to win an election. She is chairwoman of the O’Connor Judicial Selection Initiative to help make judges more than “politicians in robes,” as she has put it. O’Connor Judicial Selection Plan.
This is a sleeper issue in the governor’s race that has not received the attention that it deserves from the media. “Cathi’s Clown” Doug Ducey supports Cathi Herrod and her Center for Arizona Policy’s long sought after goal of scrapping Arizona’s merit selection of judges. Ducey, DuVal differ on gay rights, other social issues:
Ducey said he wants Arizona to scrap its 40-year-old system of merit selection of judges for the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and trial courts in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. That system requires the governor to make selections from a list of recommendations by a special screening committee.
Ducey said he favors allowing the governor to pick whoever he or she wants, subject only to Senate confirmation, similar to the federal system. DuVal said the current system works to take much of the politics out of the process.
A legislatively referred referendum, Prop. 115 in 2012, proposed by CAP to amend the state’s merit selection commission to give the governor at least 8 names to select from, up from the current constitutional provision of at least 3 names, failed overwhelmingly by 72.34-27.66%. Voters understood that it was an assault on the independence of the judiciary.
Undaunted, Cathi Herrod and CAP were back in 2013 with HB 2600, which sought to statutorily amend the constitutional provision (which cannot be done) to give the governor at least 5 names for any judicial vacancy, and to weaken the influence of the commission. Our lawless legislature passed the bill and it was signed into law by Governor Brewer. The Arizona Supreme Court quickly struck down HB 2600 as a violation of Arizona’s Constitution (you’re shocked, I’m sure). Ariz. SC rejects new judicial merit selection law.
Cathi Herrod and CAP did not aggressively pursue its assault on judicial merit selection in the 2014 session of the Arizona legislature, preferring instead to focus on the election of “Cathi’s Clown” Doug Ducey, who supports CAP’s assault on the independence of the judiciary.
Should “Cathi’s Clown” Doug Ducey be elected governor, you can be certain that CAP will be filing bills in January to scrap the merit selection of judges in Arizona and to assault the independence of the judiciary. Arizona voters overwhelmingly do not support this. So do not vote for “Cathi’s Clown” Doug Ducey and spare us all the expense and trouble of dealing with this insanity.