Letter to the editor: Thoughts on retaining judges
To the editor:
We should think about whether to retain a judge based on whether that judge fairly and consistently interprets, applies and follows the constitution and the laws passed by our Legislature, and not based solely on a particular case with which we disagree. Voting a judge out based on one ruling in one case isn’t healthy for our judiciary.
The Legislature (for better or worse) makes our laws. And judges are supposed to apply those laws to the facts of a particular case — apply those laws even when a judge might not personally agree with the law or resulting outcome. It’s not the judge’s proper place to disregard the law; that would encroach on the Legislature’s powers. If our judges are following the law, they’re doing their job.
Take any law, though, and you’ll find unbelievably capable legal minds — judges, lawyers and legal scholars — who differ on how to interpret that law, and that’s OK. In fact, that’s good. Differing legal interpretations promote healthy debate among our honorable judges and justices, and I want those conversations to happen. Exceedingly smart minds sometimes disagree.
Judges who go rogue and don’t follow the law should be voted out; they’re not doing their job. But judges who do follow the law, even if we don’t always agree with their legal interpretations, promote consistency and predictability among our courts, and they’re worth retaining. Protecting our state court courts from future politicization is more important than a single legal issue, no matter how strongly we feel.