Jump to content

Is our Democracy in Trouble?


Cole Parker

Recommended Posts

I have never understood how anyone could think ELECTING judges would make for a non-political stability and fairness. What amazes me is that it has taken this long for it to become obvious. The next issue with a similar basis is the electing of Sheriffs, District Attorneys, and others supposed to be enforcing the laws of the land. Sure, you may get perfectly qualified candidates, but you are more likely to get populist ones, who cater to getting re-elected more than to meting out justice.

Link to comment

Yet consider the alternatives. Europeans never had much luck with hereditary magistrates in the form of the nobility. If, instead, we appoint our judges we must agree on who does the appointing and hope that nothing corrupts that process. Perhaps judges could buy their benches -- oh, wait, maybe that's already part of the present electoral system...

James

Link to comment

From article at Cole's link:

"Jon W. Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, said he was distressed by the judges' defeat in Iowa but added that it would not deter gay rights lawyers from bringing cases in state court.

"In my mind, it is an attack on our country, an attack on our form of government, which has three branches, one of which is supposed to be making decisions without giving in to the majority will," Davidson said."

Here I think the fault in the system is revealed. The expectation is that the voters will vote for the best person to be a judge, but the voters do not understand the difference between voting for a democratic representative who makes the law, and voting for a judge who upholds the law by administering justice without prejudice.

Thus, if the political parties see advantage in attaining a bench with judges who favour their party's political view, then they will seek to influence the vote to be politically based, rather than it be based on judicial concerns.

Trab is correct when he says,

"I have never understood how anyone could think ELECTING judges would make for a non-political stability and fairness."

James, is right that heredity nobility didn't work too well either.

We should remember too that the Pope is elected and we might ask how well that has worked?

There are plenty of precedents for appointing judges, in a number of countries.

The Australian system is appointment based on a list of seniority of peers within the legal system. The government in committee then makes a decision based on a deliberate attempt to keep the justices equally aligned to the left and right, with an overriding record for being non-prejudiced in much the same way as the SCOTUS justices are appointed, but without the public interrogation brouhaha. We do end up with times when the courts lean to being conservative, but it is conservative in the application of law, not in political bias with exactly the similar levels of social and political reserve as seen in SCOTUS.

Electing judges is a flawed concept in my opinion, especially when the alternative of appointment can be seen in many countries to be working without the potential for the corruption of the vote as seen in the US.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't expect any change soon.

There is a medical parallel if you like. Would you like to have surgery by a doctor who was voted to be your surgeon by the towns people, or appointed by a medical board intent on getting the best doctor to be the surgeon with experience in your ailment?

Legal argument in any court is complex and open to abuse, question and manipulation. To have the judge being embroiled in all that through concern for his popularity, instead of apart from it seems to me best served by appointment rather than voting.

Link to comment

Judges should pass a trial by combat or some sort of very difficult physical trial where failure means death to qualify for office.

As it stands the current system encourages survival of the sneakiest.

If we return to a physical trial for judges, we will foster courage in our judges- something lacking in elected judges and district attorneys who grandstand for votes.

Link to comment
Judges should pass a trial by combat or some sort of very difficult physical trial where failure means death to qualify for office.

As it stands the current system encourages survival of the sneakiest.

If we return to a physical trial for judges, we will foster courage in our judges- something lacking in elected judges and district attorneys who grandstand for votes.

And we could sell popcorn whilst we watch the judges walk on coals, etc.

Link to comment

My opinion is, this was an aberration.

Our system has worked well, if not flawlessly, for centuries. Of course there have been abuses. But they've been mistakes on the parts of the people involved. The system, for the most part, has worked well. Better than any other I've ever read about.

The problem as I see it is the tenor of the times. When things go awry economically, people begin to worry about their security, and that of their families. Everything looks and feels different, and people begin to retrench their thinking, their attitudes. Religion becomes more important to them, something they can fall back on. And, this too is when wing-nuts come out of their dark hiding places and preach nonsense which is accepted by too many people as wisdom, because some explanation is required for why suddenly everything is going wrong.

In Iowa, the campaign enjoyed a number of organizations entering the fray that support the belief we're all going to hell in a hand basket if gay men can marry. Talk about being distracted from real issues! But with these organizations spending money and spewing twaddle, and the judges involved merely being judges and not political beasts with organizations behind them, and people in Iowa feeling the effects of the economic woes we're all suffering at the moment, there was never any hope of the vote going any other way.

I don't think the system can be faulted or should be changed. I think, when the economy picks up, which it will do because these things run in cycles, usually of seven to eight good years out of ten, and then every 25 years or so a major correction occurring that takes a couple of years to completely recover from -- when we recover, sanity will return and these radical fringe groups will lose their influence. Judges then won't be pawns to special interest groups and the concomitant swaying of voters as they are now.

I doubt the good folks of Iowa who voted these judges out, judges who were merely supporting the equal protection provisions of the Constitution, will ever feel shame for their actions. It would be nice is that were to come about, however. I wonder if the replacement judges will be a competent as the ones who were ousted? Perhaps that's where the Iowans will feel the effects of their rash indiscretion.

C

Link to comment

Aww Cole I hope you don't mean the Bush years were the 8 good years.

From the outside looking in, there seems to be a lot of problems in the USA and the recent elections do not bode well for LGBT equality or for the wider welfare of the poorer segments of the society. Australia is subject to the forces of the US economy and a great deal of its culture.

I admire the US Constitution very much, but not the way it is being regarded (perhaps I should say disregarded,) by a small and now (post election,) powerful minority.

As I have stated elsewhere, voluntary voting and election of officials like judges, do not seem to be in keeping with the best interests of the Constitution, but that is a matter for the American people to consider. The rest of us can only point out, in friendship, what we see.

Link to comment

I believe that the biggest threat to democracy and decency is the growth of the virtually immortal corporate entity. With totally amoral goals of profit before anything else, they just do whatever it takes to gain strength, and if that involves pitting one poor segment of humanity against another, even over decades, that is what will happen.

In the past this same role was taken by Big Religion, and their position has been only slightly eroded by Big Corporation. They work the same way, and do the same evil deeds, and ultimately they have the same goals; total control over you and I.

Link to comment
Aww Cole I hope you don't mean the Bush years were the 8 good years.

From the outside looking in, there seems to be a lot of problems in the USA and the recent elections do not bode well for LGBT equality or for the wider welfare of the poorer segments of the society. Australia is subject to the forces of the US economy and a great deal of its culture.

I admire the US Constitution very much, but not the way it is being regarded (perhaps I should say disregarded,) by a small and now (post election,) powerful minority.

As I have stated elsewhere, voluntary voting and election of officials like judges, do not seem to be in keeping with the best interests of the Constitution, but that is a matter for the American people to consider. The rest of us can only point out, in friendship, what we see.

Des, I think you somehow took exactly the wrong message from what I wrote!

The Bush years were awful and got us into the mess we're in. He began the profligate and immoral spending which created and then brought down the house of cards our economy had become, cutting taxes in the process when the only way to finance his excesses would have been to raise them. He did more than any other president to circumscribe our rights as free and independent people.

Electing public officials, be they judges or presidents or dog catchers, is certainly fraught with danger. We can and do make mistakes. But that our system demands we make these decisions is because the designers of our system had great faith in the people of this country to make sound decisions. My point was that I support that contention. I too think we'll do the right thing, most of the time. We made a horrible judgment in re-electing Bush, and he did great harm to our country, in my opinion, but note what the result of that was. Four years later, the people could have elected another much like him, and instead went in the other direction. We put aside traditional prejudices and elected a black man with the hopes he'd set us back on the right course.

I think the people of this country will usually and ultimately make the right decision. Which is why I don't mind electing judges. There are certainly dangers in doing that, but there is also control.

We have a pretty good system. If occasionally it doesn't do what we'd like it to do, we have to remember that democracy is a process. If we look at where we've gone in over 200 years of growth, it's a pretty impressive record. And that record suggests we'll keep moving in the right direction in years to come. Will it be a straight line toward the greater good? No. But I believe we'll keep going upward, even if it is in fits and starts.

C

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...