Minnesota gagged the state judge with a law prohibiting judicial candidates from expressing their views on certain subjects. The U.S. Supreme Court heard Republican Wersal’s free speech case on Tuesday, and weighed an impartial bench against judges’ rights. Judge Wersal says the playing field wasn’t level when he lost his 1998 race against former Minnesota Viking Alan Page, because he couldn’t talk about the issues.
Thirty-eight states elect judges, and nine of those ban candidates from announcing their opinions on certain issues. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has bought commercials in several of these races, sides with Judge Wersal, as do the American Center for Law and Justice, the ACLU and Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen. These are both conservative and liberal groups, you’ll notice.
The ACLU says the First Amendment prohibits government regulation of what voters may consider in electing candidates. Well, yes, it does, according to members of Congress and the president who is going to sign the bill. This case is a snapshot of what’s coming up in CFR.
That’s a great way of putting it: the First Amendment will now, because of its being ignored, permit the government to dictate what voters may consider in electing candidates for public office. I don’t mean just in this particular case here with the judge, but in all races. Because when you ban political commercials 60 days before an election, you are, in a sense, dictating what voters may consider because you’re not allowing them to hear anything.
This judge is just a perfect little microcosm of the flaws of CFR. He can’t say what he’s going to do if he’s elected. Why run? Why would anybody vote for the guy anyway? Alan Page is the incumbent, the safe choice, you know what you’ve got, so why vote for the challenger? Everything that’s wrong with CFR from the constitutionality to the incumbent protection characteristics is on display in this test case, because it’s being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.