A New Era for Judicial Retention Elections?
Although Clear The Bench Colorado fell short of removing the trio of incumbent Colorado Supreme Court justices on this year’s ballot, the approximately 40% “NO” vote (with some minor fluctuations between individual justices on the ballot and extreme variations in county results) was not only the largest percentage of “NO” votes ever received at the state supreme court level since the institution of unopposed retention elections in Colorado, it may have signaled the dawn of a new era in judicial retention elections, statewide and nationally.
At least that’s the premise of an article published in the nationwide Stateline – State Policy and Politics publication.
Clear The Bench Colorado Director Matt Arnold was interviewed for the article (“Judge fights in Iowa, Illinois signal new era for retention elections“) which appeared online earlier today.
Although the majority of the article focuses on the hotly contested (and big-spending) judicial retention elections in Illinois (where incumbent Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride successfully campaigned to keep his seat) and Iowa (where a trio of incumbent state supreme court justices were ousted thanks to a well-resourced anti-retention campaign), it concludes with a quote from Clear The Bench Colorado Director Matt Arnold on the wider implications of the high-profile judicial retention battles this year:
The result in Iowa is “indicative of a movement to hold that third branch more accountable,” says Matt Arnold, the founder of Clear the Bench Colorado. Arnold’s group sought to remove three Colorado Supreme Court justices this year over a series of tax-related decisions. The campaign wasn’t successful, but Arnold says it may be a sign of more fights to come. “A lot of people are waking up to the fact that our courts have been increasingly usurping power that does not rightfully belong to that branch.”
The movement to hold Colorado’s judicial branch – particularly, but not exclusively, our Supreme Court justices – accountable to the Colorado Constitution and to the people of Colorado is an ongoing effort. Although Clear The Bench Colorado failed to win this first major battle, the war for judicial accountability continues.
In the near term, Clear The Bench Colorado is working to hold the consortium of legal-establishment special-interest groups who attempted (and may have succeeded in) buying the election for their buddies on the bench accountable for their violations of Colorado campaign finance law. In the longer term, Clear The Bench Colorado will work with legislators and others interested in reforming the systemic shortcomings of Colorado’s “merit selection & retention” system to increase transparency and accountability to the public. For both of those endeavors, we would appreciate your continued support – via your comments (Sound Off!) and, yes, your contributions. Freedom isn’t free -nor is it always easy to be a Citizen, not a subject.