Is electing judges a good idea? Our gut reaction is "no," but for the sake of argument, let's take a look at the current state of the courts to see just what's happening with elected versus appointed judges.
In Pennsylvania, a former Supreme Court judge just dropped her appeal of her sentence for campaign-related crimes. In Illinois, a record-breaking 2004 campaign, for which $9.3 million was spent by or on behalf of the candidates, has been followed up with a 10-years-in-the-making retention election sequel, raising questions of why lawyers and businesses are dumping millions into that election -- to "buy" an outcome for their upcoming Illinois Supreme Court case perhaps? There's even money being dumped into a district court race in Missouri.
And then there's the hypocritical rules on raising funds -- in many states, judges mustn't solicit donations but do need to fund their campaign -- that led to a Supreme Court cert. grant earlier this year.
It's a mess, one that could be solved easily with one small change: Ending the popular election of judges.