Friday, April 27, 2007

Spitzer Proposes Judicial Reform

This has truly been a busy week for Governor Spitzer, with a campaign finance reform proposal on Monday and plans to overhaul redistricting and judicial elections yesterday.

While the Brennan Center takes no position on the Governor’s long-term plan for an appointed judiciary, we welcome his proposal for interim reform of judicial selection.

The interim proposal, which would go into effect while the so-called "merit selection" constitutional amendment makes its way through the approval process, would:
  • Form Independent Judicial Qualifications Commissions to evaluate candidates and submit a list of qualified individuals;
  • Create alternative ways for judges to get nominated; and
  • Provide public financing for Supreme Court candidates.
We applaud the Governor for recognizing, along with two federal courts, that we need immediate reform to resolve fatal constitutional flaws in the sham elections now held for New York's trial courts. Doing so will not only respect voters' rights but also contribute to a fair and impartial judiciary. As our executive director Michael Waldman said:
The Governor’s plan, along with proposals made by Senator John DeFrancisco, will ultimately strengthen New York’s judiciary. Under the current system, many well-qualified lawyers are never even considered for judgeships because they lack ties to party leaders. Allowing all well-qualified candidates to compete for their party’s nomination will improve confidence in our courts.

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