Should Judges Be Elected or Appointed?

The popular election of judges opens up the judicial branch to the same partisan and commercial pressures that the other branches experience.

Q: The state where I live elects all its judges by popular vote, and their campaigns accept large donations from corporate and labor interests that often end up having business before the same judges. Some of the judges don’t even recuse themselves. What do you think about this?

It’s unethical for judges to hear cases in which they have a conflict of interest, and accepting campaign contributions from parties in a case certainly meets that test. (Besides, such tainted decisions are likely to be overturned on appeal.)

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Knight Kiplinger
Editor Emeritus, Kiplinger

Knight came to Kiplinger in 1983, after 13 years in daily newspaper journalism, the last six as Washington bureau chief of the Ottaway Newspapers division of Dow Jones. A frequent speaker before business audiences, he has appeared on NPR, CNN, Fox and CNBC, among other networks. Knight contributes to the weekly Kiplinger Letter.