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Article
Chooseyourjudges.org: Treating Elected Judges as Politicians
N/A (2011)
  • Ric Simmons
Abstract
The United States is the only country in the world that elects its judges, and popular support for judicial elections is so strong that we will certainly continue electing our judges for many years to come. However, even after centuries of conducting judicial elections, we have no clear answer to a basic question: what criteria are voters supposed use when they choose between competing judicial candidates? This article proposes a simple but controversial answer to that question: voters ought to evaluate judicial candidates based on the candidates' political ideology, and the only way to truly know the political ideology of a judicial candidate is to examine his or her prior rulings from the bench and detect patterns on specific political and legal issues. The problem is that voters are stunningly ignorant about candidates in judicial elections, and even the most conscientious voter finds it nearly impossible to learn anything meaningful about a judicial candidate's political ideology. In order to combat this ignorance, the author developed a website (www.chooseyourjudges.org) which helps voters decide which candidates they wish to vote for in judicial elections. The website first develops a political profile for all the judicial candidates on the ballot, based solely on their rulings in non-unanimous cases (as opposed to their political party, their public statements in campaign literature, etc.) The website then presents users with a quiz to determine their preferences for their judicial candidates, and then recommends candidates by matching the political profile of the judge with the user's preferences. This article describes how the data about judges is collected and categorized; how the quiz is used to determine voter preferences; and what algorithm is used to match voter preferences to specific candidates. The article also analyzes data about voter preferences in order to draw preliminary conclusions about what political issues are important to voters in judicial elections.
Keywords
  • judicial elections
Disciplines
Publication Date
2011
Citation Information
Ric Simmons. "Chooseyourjudges.org: Treating Elected Judges as Politicians" N/A (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ric_simmons/3/