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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Judicial candidate Jill Clark opposes MSBA "Affirmation"

Golden Valley attorney Jill Clark, who is running for the Supreme Court seat occupied by Justice Lorie Gildea, is troubled by the “Affirmation” the Minnesota State Bar Association recently requested that she sign and adhere to.

The affirmation, created by the MSBA’s Judicial Election Campaign Conduct Committee and sent to candidates in this year’s judicial election, requests that they refrain from:
--making public comments about pending court proceedings;
--announcing their opinions on disputed political issues;
--identifying themselves or their opponent as members of a political organization; and
--personally seeking campaign contributions.

In a July 28, 2008, letter to David Stowman, chair of the JECCC, Clark said that the committee is “essentially, pressuring me to abide by the clauses [of Canon 5] that were declared unconstitutional in the White cases.”

Clark writes that while she doesn’t want judges to agree to platforms in advance or single-issue politics to select our judges, “freedom of speech means we get to discuss these issues in our own way.” Clark goes on to say that it’s “naïve” to suggest that politics doesn’t affect the system we have now. For the full text of the letter, click here.

Also running for Gildea’s Supreme Court seat are assistant state public defender Rick Gallo and Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund.

1 comment:

bobby said...

Part of the Affirmation reads as follows:

"WHEREAS, elected judges cannot be viewed as “representatives” in the same sense as nonjudicial officials are commonly regarded . . ."

But, I think they can.

If you watch the bench closely (and, by "closely", I mean - by way of example - with the constant daily view offered to judicial clerks), you can clearly see that, in most cases, a judge's views, attitudes, preconceptions, sympathies, and values most closely correlate with the group of other judges who share political alignment with that judge.

Certainly there are individual differences in every judge. And yet, looking at least to the benches of Hennepin and Ramsey Counties over the past fifteen or twenty years, someone with constant contact with many judges can usually tell the political affiliations, or at least sympathies, of the judges.

Given, then, that there IS a perceivable correlation between party affiliation (or at least political philosophy) and attitudes towards (again, as examples) crime, or tort reform, or civil rights lawsuits, or gender fairness issues, why isn't it allowable for a voter to be told that "Nader's Raiders love Judge _____", or "Judge _____ - fairly applying the law with conservative values"?

Misleading? Heck, at least it tells you something about a candidate. Our current system allows us to know that "the following citizens have contributed to the Re-Elect Judge EZ campaign", followed by a long list of prominent citizens, whose identities clearly tell us the political affiliation of the candidate anyway.

So where's the harm, at least if you're not an incumbent?