Thursday, December 23, 2010

Redistricting update: Latest salvo targets judicial independence

It looks like Kirk Adams, Russell Pearce, and Jan Brewer are opening up another front in their war against the judicial branch's independence.

From the Arizona Business Gazette, written by Howard Fischer -
The dust-up over the process of nominating candidates for the Independent Redistricting Commission is giving new ammunition to those who want to scrap Arizona's merit selection process for judges.

Several key state lawmakers say they would welcome the chance to revisit the 1974 constitutional amendment that took away the right of voters to directly elect judges to the Arizona Supreme Court, the state Court of Appeals and the superior courts in Maricopa and Pima counties.

Some, like incoming Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said returning to that system may be the best course of action.


[State Rep.-elect Eddie] Farnsworth said the federal system of gubernatorial choices subject to Senate confirmation provides some "checks and balances" into the process, more so than he said exists with the current judicial selection commission.

Such a change would have the backing of Gov. Jan Brewer.

She has said she does not like the current restriction that limits her to choosing a new judge solely from the list sent to her by screening panels.
I'm not positive (not exactly on Pearce's, Adams' or Brewer's speed dials here :) ) but in addition to the long-term motives - they've made noises in this area before - this move could also serve as an implied threat toward Chief Justice Berch and the whole judicial branch -

Give us who we want for the "Independent" Redistricting Commission, or else the gloves are off.

We'll find out at next Wednesday's meeting (December 29, 2010) of the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments if this latest move is an effective one.

BTW - Am I the only one who noticed the irony of the least-qualified governor in recent memory objecting to the idea of having only qualified people to choose from for judgeships?


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