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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow REJECT BALLOT MEASURES ON ELECTION OF JUDGES

REJECT BALLOT MEASURES ON ELECTION OF JUDGES

Oregon voters on Nov. 5 are being asked in two measures to change the way judges are elected. Measures 21 and 22 are unnecessary. The first one would politicize the judicial selection process; the second would limit Oregonians' participation in selecting justices. Both measures should be rejected.

MEASURE 21 would revise procedures in judicial elections in Oregon and add a "none of the above" selection for each candidate running for a position.

The "none of the above" seems innocent enough at first look. If "none of the above" received more votes than the actual candidate, no one would be elected. The decision on a judge would be moved on to the next election in May or November. "None of the above" could be selected then, too, if voters wish.

"None of the above" might make sense for partisan races, including governor, state legislator or county commissioner. Voters, frustrated with their only choice on the ballot for political office, could express their dissatisfaction by selecting "none of the above."

But "none of the above" in a judicial race would place judges in a political arena where they do not belong. For example, if people were upset with how the Oregon Supreme Court ruled on legislative term-limits or some other controversial measure, then opponents of these decisions could run the straw man "none of the above" against the justice who is up for election.

Justices should base their decisions on the law and Oregon's constitution. It would be horrible if they had to look over their shoulders, thinking about how their decision would play with the public. A "none of the above" selection on the ballot and a negative campaign to defeat a sitting judge could pull justices far away from their basic responsibility of being fair and impartial interpreters of the law and constitution.

Vote no on Measure 21.

ALSO VOTE NO ON 22

Measure 22 would require that the 10 justices on the Oregon Court of Appeals and seven justices on the Oregon Supreme Court be elected by districts. Currently these positions are elected statewide.

Measure 22 would allow the people in rural parts of the state, such as Northeast Oregon, to get their hometown judges elected to these courts. The measure would divide the state into seven districts for the election of Supreme Court justices. It would carve the state into five districts for selecting Appeals Court justices.

The measure was placed on the ballot after petitioners observed that of the 17 justices now serving on the appeals and supreme courts, 16 came from the Portland, Salem and Eugene area.

While Oregon governors should be urged to look closely at rural areas when appointing justices, Measure 22 is too restrictive. If it is approved, Oregonians would no longer be able to elect all 17 justices. Each voter could only elect two Appellate Court justices and one Supreme Court justice from his district.

Our highest courts should have the best and brightest legal minds on them. Measure 22 would erode this process by placing tight boundaries on where these justices must reside. Vote no on this measure.

 
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