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O’Connor Claims Elections are Corrupting the Legal System

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Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor says the money involved in direct judicial elections is corrupting the legal system.

In Kentucky, judges from the district level to the State Supreme Court are elected. At the Kentucky Bar Association’s annual convention in Louisville today, O’Connor—the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court—told hundreds of lawyers and judges that judicial elections are in direct conflict with the intent of American justice system.

“I believe that campaigns for judicial office and elections and the increasing flood of money that that system of selection entails is in fundamental conflict with the promise that a judge’s only constituency is the law,” she said.

O’Connor added that the public is starting to view judges with the same contempt they do other public officials because of direct elections and the influence of money.

“I worry that the ideal of having your day in court, of having the merits of your case decided without passion or prejudice is being eroded by threats to judicial independence,” she said.

O'Connor also pushed for more civics education in the U.S., noting that many adults and children have little to no knowledge of how the nation's legal system works.

Kenny Colston is the Frankfort Bureau Chief for Kentucky Public Radio (a collaborative effort of public radio stations in Kentucky). Colston has covered Kentucky's Capitol and state government since 2010. He is a Louisville native, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. When he's not tracking down stories about Kentucky politics, you can often find him watching college sports, particularly football.
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