DAVID A. STEWART

  • DAVID A. STEWART

For the slow weekend, an opinion piece by David Stewart on the recent news that Arkansas Republicans, as revealed at a recent state GOP committee meeting, intend to establish a political action committee to support the right sorts of judicial candidates.

I’ve commented here and also in an editorial in this week’s Arkansas Times about the idea. It’s all about establishing a Republican judiciary in fact, if not in name.

Stewart drew a similar conclusion and points out the dangers. His opinion is worthy of note. He’s the retired executive director of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission and currently serving by appointment to fill a vacancy as district judge in Fayetteville.

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His full opinion piece is on the jump. Some excerpts on the PAC organizer’s idea to support only judicial candidates who support the Republican Party’s “conservative” principles:

Imagine a judge who decides a case on his or her conservative, or liberal, political philosophy rather than the facts and the law! How wrong is that?!

…Judges are required to ignore the rancor and division of the populace on policy decisions and follow the law and the constitution, public opinion be damned. When judges are either elected or appointed with the purpose of reflecting public policy leanings in their decisions, rather than follow the law, we have reduced, if not eliminated, the independence of the judiciary.

.. Rendering an objective and independent decision can be easily done in a routine and simple case, but the tough one, the close call, the one that has impassioned onlookers and influential parties involved is subject to the wrong result if the judge is looking forward to the next election.

… Bluntly put, judges should not be subject to the political whims of those who can raise and spend so much money that it changes the results of an election.

Which is exactly why Republicans want to put their thumb on the scale.

Conservative is also in the eye’s of the beholder, I’d note. Is it conservative to place the state in place of a woman on medical decisions, for example?

On reading Stewart’s piece, I wonder if judicial candidates have violated ethical canons in seeking PAC support and speaking before a PAC to get it, as the Republicans envision their process.