Campaign $$$ ‘silence’
by PAT MURPHY
of the scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours politics are apt to wink
knowingly when quoting the simplest maxim of insider political loyalty.
dance with the one who brung you'' — to wit: play footsie with those who
put you in office.
almost certain that some of those behind the Term Limits Campaign Fund in
2000 who raised $52,000 to defeat Idaho Supreme Court Justice Cathy Silak
expect something in return from her triumphant opponent, now-Justice
Daniel Eismann, even if he made no such promise.
been indirectly tainted by the appearance of tit-for-tat because of media
reports about the fund to defeat Justice Silak, Justice Eismann has
wisely, if not regrettably, announced he won’t take part in the term
limits case to be heard by the high court Thursday.
Eismann has been silenced and a vote removed from the court’s decision,
one way or another, by the stench of money in an election of a jurist.
proof do voters and politicians in this state need that campaign money and
the courts simply are a toxic, poisonous mixture?
never reach political maturity until it abandons the injudicious system of
electing judges, and instead adopts an appointive system that brings to
the bench the very best in legal minds and insulates them from the squalid
necessity of passing the hat for campaign funds for re-election.
of electing judges claim deceitfully that appointing judges would rob
voters of their democratic right.
boosters of electing judges have no such lofty motives — they’re
largely well-heeled lobbies that want to use campaign donations in hopes
of influencing judges and prevail in court.
defeated Justice Silak was a fine jurist, unimpeachably honest and ethical
with a record of judicial independence. But her insistence on independence
of the court offended special interests who failed to get their way, and
who vindictively turned out in force to defeat her at the polls.
successor, untouchable by campaign groups as he might be, is too
embarrassed by even the remotest insinuations to deliberate with other
members of the high court on the term limits case because of the questions
raised by money.
states long ago adopted systems by which judges are initially appointed
from a list prepared by bipartisan panels. Then, they stand for
"retention" by popular vote at the end of their terms, either
retained or rejected by voters.
of those systems is that judges are prohibited from raising or accepting a
dime of campaign money, thus precluding lawyers who practice before them
or special interest groups in search of favors from creating what amounts
to IOUs from a judge.
there’s also a lesson in the dozens of members of Congress in recent
years who’ve decided not to seek re-election, citing their discomfort in
spending almost every day appealing for funds for the next campaign, then
facing major donors who expect favors when votes on legislation are
American public’s trust in institutions continues to be betrayed, heroic
efforts must be made to guarantee that courts on which a civil and orderly
society is so dependent don’t sink into the cesspool of deceit,
partisanship and back scratching that creates new headlines of shame