The Golden Gavel

You can't buy justice--but now it's easier to make a down payment

In Minnesota legal circles, there is already speculation about a push for a constitutional amendment that would, in part, mimic the federal system of judicial appointment. Whether that movement can gain political traction remains an open question.

But if it doesn't, the Joyce Foundation's Hansen has a word of warning. By further opening the process to the public, he says, the judiciary may well become less populist. "I fear you are going to wind up with a court system dominated by the fixed, less nuanced views of interest groups that will throw their weight around to get judges elected."

In other words, when you look at that mysterious judicial ballot in the future, you'll be more likely to know the names--and less likely to trust them.

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