Monday, November 3, 2014

It's all about the judges, baby.

If it moves you, baby.

This is the time of year when newspaper reporters, bloggers and Facebook posters all send out this popular message:  You need to vote!  Exercise your American rights at the ballot box!

From the admittedly cynical point where this 50-something lady now stands, there is only one reason to vote, but that reason is not the commonly held idea, which is to elect the politician who have made the most appealing promises or smeared their opponent the best, or the proposition which you think is a necessary and good thing (although that last one can be important in many cases, if it's a legally sound idea).

Oddly enough, the people you vote for that have the greatest impact on your community and your state are -- by far -- the judges up for election or re-election (who almost nobody pays much attention to), and, also, the people who have the power to appoint judges, at the state or national level.  That is, in my opinion, the most powerful reason to get out there and vote.

Judges have more power in this nation than anyone else, mainly because at the appeals level they can affirm or strike down convictions, rulings and even majority-voted-in laws which might or might not end up being constitutional, depending on the judges' viewpoint.  

Look at the recent striking-down of gay marriage bans, the upholding or defeat of anti-abortion laws, or any search and seizure or privacy rights case that's gone to the state or supreme court level to see what I mean.  Look at locally-passed laws which make their way up through the court system as they are appealed. These are the decisions which can affect your county, state or nation, as well as you as an individual.  Sure, we may vote for this law or that one, this proposition or that one.  But ultimately, our decisions can be swept away or affirmed in a heartbeat by one judge's or appeals court's ruling.

If you decide to vote tomorrow, which is totally up to you, don't forget the judges and those who appointment them.  Those are the folks who absolutely will be making final decisions on things which will affect your life and the place you live in over the next several years, possibly longer.


  1. The low voter turn out this election certainly was interesting. I'm personally quite politically jaded, so it doesn't surprise me. I just wonder how much longer our two party system can limp along? Judges are a particularly bizarre thing here. Counties are small and surprisingly diverse. Some judges are so far behind I would imagine it's difficult to remember what the defendant has been accused of. Others are so swift the dust barely settles before the gavel is slammed. It is refreshing in my county because the network is old enough and strong enough that our judges are connected and will go out on a limb to fight moral indecency. Latitude judges in neighboring Franklin County are not permitted, being the county of the state capital and much larger. So it's funny that until reading your post, I hadn't ever given much thought to voting on judges!

    1. You live in an interesting state, judicially speaking! Every time the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals makes a decision, I just remember that all those folks were once judges at the lower levels. If you have good judges in your county, that's something to be proud of, hopefully they will rise in importance and eventually make good decisions at higher levels, too. : )