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The Supreme Court's decision in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White shows how unrealistic five justices can be about what happens in judicial election campaigns, and also - ironically - about how much judges differ from legislators and others who run for office. This reality was captured concisely by Robert Hirshon, immediate past president of the American Bar Association (ABA) in his statement following the Court's ruling: "This is a bad decision. It will open a Pandora's Box.... " The decision will change judicial election campaigns in such a way that the quality of the pool of candidates for the bench will likely diminish, good judges will be less willing to seek reelection, and the public's cynical view that judges are merely "another group of politicians" will gain further impetus. This will directly hurt state courts and indirectly hurt all our courts. After noting the majority and separate opinions - which, unsurprisingly, raise many questions - this article will predict what litigation lies ahead, then describe the current judicial election environment and prospects for reform.


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Publication Citation

41 Judges' J. 7-10 (2002)