Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Republicans attacking a Republican judge because he isn't partisan enough to suit them

This story is exhibit 1 in the case against Proposition 115, the measure to impose more partisanship on the state's judiciary, the only branch of the state's government that garners any serious respect.

From Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, via the East Valley Tribune (emphasis mine) -

A loosely organized effort to oust a state Supreme Court justice is forcing him to consider an unprecedented campaign to keep his post.

Justice John Pelander said he is upset by "hit pieces'' being put out by groups urging that he not be retained on the bench this year. He said the information being circulated about a September ruling is "misleading'' at best.
Campaign materials being put out by groups as diverse as the Williams Tea Part [sic] and Legislative District 18 Republican Committee are urging a "no'' on the ballot question about retaining Pelander.
The anger is focused on Pelander because the Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that Proposition 121 can be on the ballot. That measure, if approved, would amend the state Constitution to create an open primary system where all candidates run against each other regardless of party affiliation, with the top two advancing to the general election.

The Arizona Republican Party, like the other organized parties in the state, has come out in opposition to Prop 121.  However, simply voting "no" on the measure, and urging others to do the same, isn't enough for them.

Nope, they are trying to retaliate against a judge, who was just one of a majority on the state supreme court that ruled against their gambit to keep the measure away from the voters (actually, the justices ruled against an appeal of a lower court ruling that allowed the measure to remain on the ballot, but a top-of-the-(back of)-ballot Supreme Court justice is a riper target than a Maricopa County Superior Court judge).

I expect the effort to remove Pelander from the Arizona Supreme Court will fail (previous efforts to remove judges who weren't, but this effort serves as a perfect example of what will happen if Proposition 115 passes - whenever a case with partisan implications comes along, judges will feel undue pressure to rule on the basis of partisan interests, not the law.

To do otherwise will endanger their jobs.

For the record, I have already voted against Props 115 and 121; I may not agree with 121 (hence my "no" vote), but the backers jumped through all the hoops necessary to put the measure on the ballot, and it deserves consideration by the voters.  I think that they should defeat the measure, but it is up to the voters, not special interests.

For the record2, I do believe that there are legitimate reasons to remove a judge from the bench.  Corruption, misuse of office, and rendering rulings based on factors other than the law are at the top of the list.

None of that describes Justice Pelander.  Vote to retain him.

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