In the United States today the vast majority of states conduct elections in some form or fashion to select members of the judiciary. These elections bring into conflict two ideals of American government: officials who are accountable to the people, and the idea of a fair and impartial judiciary. Organizations such as the American Bar Association and the American Judicature Society have expressed misgivings about judicial elections for years; however, judicial elections continue to have support from voters. Judicial elections raise a myriad of ethical and political questions that have been the source of heated debate for years; however, several recent state and federal court decisions may have brought the debate to a head. Addressing issues such as the Voting Rights Act, and the First Amendment issues of campaign spending limits and restrictions on campaign speech, the courts have taken the position that competitive judicial elections are subject to the same laws as all other elections. This line of cases recently culminated in the Supreme Court's decision in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White.
Judicial Elections: Recent Developments, Historical Perspective, and Continued Viability,
Rich. J. L. & Pub. Int.
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