Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Elected Judges are the ONLY reason Shelley Luther isn't still in Jail

"Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him.' "
Deuteronomy 1:16

Last week SCOTX ordered Shelley Luther released. Obviously. Since then, however, several folks have made an important observation to us.

The only reason why Shelley Luther isn't still sitting in jail in Dallas county is because the Justice of the Texas Supreme Court have to face the voters.

This is important because there's been a lot of talk about changing the way Texas selects judges:
This summer, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law creating a commission to study the issue — signaling that the GOP-led Legislature could overhaul the system as soon as 2021. That move comes after Democrats killed a sweeping reform proposal that Abbott had quietly backed.

In Texas, one of just a few states that maintains a system of partisan judicial selection all the way up through its high courts, judges are at the mercy of the political winds. They are required to run as partisans but expected to rule impartially. They are forced to raise money from the same lawyers who will appear before them in court. And in their down-ballot, low-information races, their fates tend to track with the candidates at the top of the ticket.
Any system of appointed and/or allegedly "non-partisan" judicial selection would inevitably be dominated by legal insiders.  There are any number of reasons why you don't want that.  In a case like Shelley Luther's, however, there's no way that sort of legal insider wouldn't side with the government.

Bottom Line: Voters are a highly imperfect check on the judiciary.  But they are a check.  Last week's SCOTX ruling was a tangible example of how that works.

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