Some on the very far right wing of the Republican Party have decided attacking judges, turning neutral arbitrators into partisan hacks, is good politics. It may be good Republican politics to pander to your base under the Karl Rove/Jeff Roe theory, but it is not good government.
Here's the the KC Star Editorial from February 7, 2008:
Some Missouri lawmakers persist in trying to inject politics into the selection of judges, a truly bad idea that could lead to buying and selling of justice. The latest assault on the judiciary in Jefferson City involves constitutional amendments that could seriously damage the state’s much- copied system of keeping politics at arm’s length from the judiciary. A nonpartisan panel of lawyers, representatives of the public and a judge screen candidates for a judgeship in the state’s largest cities and at the appellate level. Three names are sent to the governor, who makes the final choice.
It’s a good system.
Rep. Jim Lembke, a St. Louis Republican, wants a panel of Democrats and Republicans to make the nominations. He also wants senators to approve the governor’s selection. Those changes would allow politicians to essentially pick judges. Rep. Stanley Cox, another Republican from Sedalia, wants the governor to have a greater say in choosing the nominees. That could result in only candidates who are political associates of the governor — and possibly campaign contributors — making it to the bench.
Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith this week pointed out to legislators that the non-partisan system is in place because largely Republican lawmakers and civic leaders once led a voter initiative. It’s puzzling that GOP lawmakers — backed by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt — now want to depart from that historical achievement.
They apparently haven’t thought very far ahead. They may well regret their efforts if the next governor is a Democrat. Missouri’s system has served the state well since 1940 and there were no complaints about the overall quality of judges until Blunt and current legislative critics of the system got into office.
The nonpartisan system isn’t what is off-base here. These ideas for politicizing the judiciary should be rejected.
The far right wing of the Republican Party love to talk about "strict constructionist judges," which is code word for reversing Roe v. Wade. The Republicans talking about this are not the business types who want even, fair & consistent rulings on contract cases. It's not the fiscal conservatives who just want Bush to stop running up trillion dollar deficits. It's only those folks who understand that if they can stop courts from enforcing our civil rights, then they can eliminate the right to choose.
Right wing folks fear McCain because he formed the Gang of 14 to work through Bush's efforts to appoint extremely conservative judges. Pat Buchanan, writing in the American Conservative, in an article entitled The Great Betrayal, is at least honest about it - Buchanan says that he wants the next Republican president to appoint someone to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In 1993, McCain voted to confirm the pro-abortion liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But when Bush set out to restore constitutionalism, McCain formed the Gang of 14, seven senators from each party. All agreed to vote to block the GOP Senate from invoking the “nuclear option”—i.e., empowering the GOP to break a filibuster of judicial nominees by majority vote—unless the seven Democrats agreed.
With this record of voting for Clinton justices and joining with Democrats anxious to kill the most conservative Bush’s nominees, what guarantee is there a President McCain would nominate and fight for the fifth jurist who would vote to overturn Roe v Wade?
Democrats don't talk about the need to pack courts with political hacks. We don't ask judges to pre-judge or pre-commit to their rulings on important civil rights issues. It looks like the Republican Party has lost control of their far right wing again.