Minnesota Judicial Appointment Amendment (2010)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
According to reports the measure specifically called for the creation of a selection panel that would recommend candidates to the governor for judicial appointment. Judges would have been selected based on merit and their performance while in office. However, at the end of each eight-year term judges would be subject to a retention election. Any vacant seats would be replaced by appointment. At the time, in 2010, Minnesota court judges were subject to elections every six years.
Despite Rep. Steve Simon withdrawing his bill in April 2010 after it was predicted to be defeated in a House committee, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Rep. Ryan Winkler sent the bill to a different committee for consideration. It didn't receive the required approval from the legislature.
- Judge David Knutson, a Dakota County district judge, argued that the proposed judicial appointment measure should appear on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot. In an editorial, published in The Star Tribune, he wrote, "Merit selection, coupled with retention elections, is the best way to keep our state courts competent and impartial, as well as to maintain the public's trust and confidence in that impartiality. Judges need to continue to make decisions based on the law and the facts of each case, instead of worrying about how their ruling might affect their next campaign." And added that it would be a disservice to prevent voters from casting their votes on the issue.
- Sen. Ann Rest said the proposed measure would help keep politics out of judicial elections. "There is less of a climate of these aggressive negative ads in a state that has retention elections than they are when you put someone up in opposition to a judge," Rest said.
- Judge Jack Nordby, a Hennepin County district judge, was opposed to the proposed amendment. In an editorial published in The Star Tribune, he wrote, "This amendment itself may well be unconstitutional...Our laws already provide for removal of judges from cases in which their impartiality can reasonably be questioned. Thus, even if someone managed to buy a judge, the chosen one could not hear the supporter's case. It is one thing -- usually benign -- to alter a constitution to strengthen individual liberties. It is another and ominous thing altogether to do so to abolish them." The amendment proposed in order to increase independence, Nordby argued, would do the opposite and decrease independence.
- Leaders of the Minnesota Tea Party Patriots announced on March 18, 2010 that they opposed the proposed judicial appointment amendment. Tea Party leader Antoinette Backdahl said the proposed amendment would undermine the "power of the people."
Path to the ballot
Proposed amendments are required to be agreed to by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Minnesota State Legislature. However, at the end of the legislative session on May 17, 2010 the legislature had not approved the measure, disqualifying it for the 2010 ballot. In late May, supporters said they would propose the measure again during the next legislative session.
- Minnesota Public Radio, "What didn't happen in the 2010 legislative session," May 17, 2010
- Politics in Minnesota, "Targets in sight: a few key initiatives remain on radar for the 2010 Legislature," April 7, 2010
- Minnesota Public Radio, "Proposal would reduce judicial ballots to 'hired' or 'fired'," April 5, 2010
- Star Tribune, "Jack Nordby: Beware idea of judicial retention vote," March 10, 2010
- Associated Press, "Justices making new push to abolish elected judges," December 11, 2009
- Pioneer Press, "What did — and didn't — get done by legislators," May 17, 2010
- Review Messenger, "Instead of judicial races, retention elections," accessed March 11, 2010 (dead link)
- Star Tribune, "Judicial retention proposal dead for now," April 26, 2010
- MinnPost, "Let Minnesota voters decide how judicial selection/election is done," March 11, 2010
- Minnesota Star Tribune, "New life for proposal on judicial elections," May 6, 2010
- The Star Tribune, "Judge David L. Knutson: Let voters decide how to pick judges," March 16, 2010
- Minnesota Public Radio, "Bill would change how state's judges are chosen," March 25, 2010
- The Star Tribune, "Jack Nordby: Beware idea of judicial retention vote," March 10, 2010
- Pioneer Press, "Minnesota 'tea party' group opposes retention elections for judges," March 18, 2010
- Finance & Commerce, "Judicial election reform proponents vow to continue fight," May 28, 2010 (dead link)
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