There has been a flurry of activity in the last 24 hours related to judicial elections in Arkansas.
Our content partner Jason Tolbert reports on the Republican Party of Arkansas’ endorsement of candidates in three major judicial races.
The RPA endorsed two Supreme Court nominees citing their trial experience. In a third Court of Appeals race, the Republican Party is calling for the support of Judge Rhonda Wood over incumbent Judge Jo Hart.
Among the recommendations from the Chairman’s Judicial Committee, it states:
Preferred candidate: Judge Rhonda Wood of Conway – a Republican!
Other candidate: Judge Josephine L. Hart (previously ran as a Democrat)
It’s a bit odd in that the state GOP was one of the biggest advocates of non-partisan judicial elections, which were passed by popular initiative in 2000, would be advocating party loyalty in a judicial race. The whole point of the 2000 measure was to remove partisan politics from the judicial system.
Democratic Party of Arkansas executive director Mariah Hatta tells Talk Business that the party does not engage in nonpartisan races.
I’d also call your attention to John Brummett’s Sunday column. Prior to this controversy, he argues for the appointment of judges and explains his logic as to how today’s judicial elections are more popularity contests versus discussions of judicial philosophy.
Also, here is an excellent link from the American Judicature Society, which has a history of Arkansas’ judicial election process. For periods of time throughout the 1800’s, judges were not popularly elected.