I’m deeply disappointed in candidates for judgeships in Sedgwick County, Kansas. They, as one newspaper article pointed out, campaigned for elections based on “their judicial temperament, their work ethic, their experience and knowledge of the law. And, of course, where they stand on abortion.”
Here’s why I’m so disappointed in these individuals: it’s not just because of my personal stance on abortion (if you haven’t noticed, I’m for it). It’s mostly because of the principles that those candidates threw out the window to get votes.
I am familiar with campaigning for judgeships at a personal level. My uncle was a candidate for town justice this past year. Even though we don’t see eye to eye on politics, I would have voted for my uncle in a heartbeat, not because of the family connection, but because of what the position of town justice entails and my uncle’s personal qualities as well as his qualifications. See, being a judge shouldn’t be about political stances, but integrity and devotion to the Constitution and the laws of the United States.
According to the government, state judges should be impartial and objective in exercising their authority to apply and interpret law. Their personal opinions should come in to play as little as possible. When campaigning for judgeships, candidates should respect and understand the role they would have as a justice: to objectively and impartially evaluate the situation using case law and statues. Simply put, judges need to be fair and uphold the current law, not decide a case to suit her/his own personal opinions or beliefs.
We should hold candidates for justices to the highest possible standard in order to get court systems that are just and fair. When campaigning, my uncle did not talk politics or personal beliefs, but rather his experience with the law and the qualities that he brought to the table that would make him an excellent judge. He even refused to answer the question “What is to blame for the high rate of minority incarcerations?” with the response that “I prefer not to go there only because I’m told that, according to judicial ethics, we can’t express opinions about political topics and I don’t think that’s a road I can go down without really getting into politics.”
That is in stark contrast to the attitude from the candidates in Sedgwick County, Kansas when they ran for office this past month as they actively looked for the endorsement of Kansas for Life and campaigned on an anti-choice platform. This should be deeply disturbing to anyone who grasps the purpose of our judicial system and has a healthy respect for the law no matter what their opinion on abortion.