Article Analysis



Institution affiliation:

Article analysis


Judicial Selection from a Political Science Perspective, anarticle by Antony Champagne expresses the desire of appointing bodiesor authorities to select judicial appointees or ideology contextsbased on a political science perspective. The article reveals thestructures and political mileage or decorum that shapes the selectionof judges as well as the impact of the selection to the actions ofthe appointees in their capacity as state judges. The articlecommunicates the defining debate on the judicial selection processand the way process affects two major issues, the judicialindependence and judicial accountability. Champagne also speaks aboutthe awareness of the electorate regarding the persons they elect tojudicial offices and raise questions on the effectiveness of thepersons or the public’s viewpoint on the propriety of such people.

On the other hand, Jonathan Berman article, You May Know the Lawbut I Own the Judge, speaks about the issue of political sponsorsof judges’ campaigns, and the their actions end up corrupting thejudiciary. The article describes the dissipating structure that isjudiciary and the way some people have corrupted personnel in thesystem for their own advantage. The author gives specific examplesof how money has influenced court decisions, and about the need ofthe congress to step in and take control. Both papers containelements of the Christian viewpoint of law, the judiciary, corruptionand overall integrity. In addition, the articles discuss the elementsof decorum and offer a context on the impropriety that shapes thejudicial structure sometimes. In this regards, the discourse offersan analysis on the articles based on their viewpoints and generates aconclusive context that align to the structure of the judiciary.

JudicialSelection from a Political Science Perspective

Champagne bases the theme of the article “Judicial selection from apolitical science perspective” on the events of the 2010 judicialretention elections, where the President of the new York City BarAssociation wrote to the New York Times giving his views about theoutcome of the a ruling. The ruling was about same sex marriageprotection, which illustrated the fundamental dispute that existsbetween modern analysts of politics and the legal community. Theauthor feels that the defeat of Iowa judges was somehow ironic. Thereason for this is that the judges have been selected on amerit-selection system. The use of this system is aimed at promotingjudicial independence from the electorate, given that is very rare todefeat judges in retention elections.

Whileinvestigating the content of the paper carefully, it is realized thatthe author felt that the debate on the system of selection of judgesraises two major issues, the independence of the judiciary and theaccountability of the judges. Champagne says that an appointmentsystem, especially like the one that is used by the federal judicialappointment system, puts emphasis on the independence of thejudiciary. This means that there is no substantial check on the judgeonce they have passed the process of confirmation. Some states, suchas Missouri, insist on selecting judges based on merit. The governorhas the mandate to appoint a judge however, the commission’srecommendations restrict the mandate of the judge. In some otherstates, defined as states that elect their judges where the partyaffiliations of the judges lie upon the ballot, the system promoteselectoral accountability to a certain degree. According to a judicialservices investigator, most people see judicial elections as a way ofpromoting judicial independence. This is because the authoritiesdesign them to protect the judges from the influence of the governorsby providing them with a power base.

Champagne’sresearch shows that there is a limited effect on the ideology ofjudicial decisions. The proponents of this ideology argue against thevalue of accountability in the process of selecting judges. Champagneargues in the paper that a small effect on judicial accountabilitydoes not mean it is inconsequential. All ideology that plays any rolein judiciary, regardless of the weight of its effect, is importantand substantive. There are other extra variables, ideology included,that are very likely to emerge and have a great effect in selectedcases. This leads to the question as to whether judicial elections dopromote accountability. One thing that is least known to theelectorate is that once they have elected a judge, they cannot holdthe persons elected accountable after that. This argument issupported by a research that indicated District judges are moderatelypopular amongst the electorate. This is a show that indeed the voterscannot be in a position to hold the elected judges responsible andaccountable for their actions once in office.

Thejustice issue brought up by Champagne reflects the Christianworldview of the judiciary process adequately. The theme ofaccountability brings the connection between the ideology ofChristianity and the judiciary. When the founding fathers developedthe judicial system, they had in mind how to control the way theindividuals who occupied the offices conducted themselves and checksand balances. This is because according to the ideology ofChristianity, the fall of man has a tendency of gravitating towardscorruption. By being accountable, the judges avoid dishonesty,corruption and being impartial. These are some of the checks imposedon judges.

YouMay Know the Law But I Own the Judge

The article “You may know the law but I own the judge: Whycongress can and should get involved in state judicial electionreform” speaks about the need to have the congress create amandatory disqualification rule for the state judges who have beensponsored in excess during campaigns. According to one of thejustices, campaign contributions to judges has an effect on theinfluence on the manner they render services. The main point is thatcampaign contributions are one of the tools of promoting corruptionin the judiciary. As the title of the article suggests, the sponsorsof the judges during their campaigns literally own them, and it isexpected that all cases brought before them will go in favor of theirrespective sponsors. One of the examples is the case of Texaco Inc.v. Pennzoil. In the year 1987, the lead council of Pennzoil donatedabout 10000 to the reelection of the judge who was supposed topreside over the case. Again, after the case had reached the highestcourt of Texas, the lead council of Pennzoil donated $258,000 to thejudges who was presiding over the case. It was obvious that thejudges who were beneficiaries of these donations would not actrationally. This is a classic example of how campaign sponsors bringcorruption into the judiciary.

Theauthor feels that the congress, if willing, can play a role inreforming state judicial election processes in order to bring to endmalpractices in the judiciary. First, there is a proposal to restorefairness and impartiality to elected state judiciaries. It has beendemonstrated that elected judges are the one who preside over thecases of their major campaign contributors. This put litigants in anawkward position. It is naturally human to return favors. For thelitigants, this means unfair tribunal. Berman proposes constitutionalways of protecting litigants against this. The first action by thecongress is to make the judges disqualify themselves from cases theyknow in a timely manner that either the party, or their lawyers, havein the past made aggregate contributions towards their campaigns of acertain amount. This is a thoughtful proposal by the author. By doingthis, the state will be in a position to appoint a different judge tothe case. However, the only setback about this is the availability ofjudges to preside over the case where the judge has pulled out. Thiswould mean that there would be delay of the cases, giving parties achance to ‘influence’ the potential judges who may take over thecases. As a solution to this, Berman suggests that before a judge isdisqualified under this statute, disqualification has to be subjectto approval by the non-contributing side.

Bermanconcludes that it is becoming quite apparent that groups that havespecial interests are not only seeking to have influence in thepolitical branches. They have made the campaign sponsorship a tool toown the judges, hence giving them an influential status in thecountry’s judiciary. This means that something has to be done intime to protect the fairness and impartiality of the state courts.From a Christian point view, the judiciary is becoming corrupt, andthe perpetrators of the crime are the people who are influencingthose who have been given the mandate to take over the judiciary. Theinfluencers are the political class who are sponsoring the judges intheir elections. Money, the influencing tool, is recognized both infrom the Christian point view and the paper that needs a solution tocontrol its flow in elections. The paper clearly demonstrates bygiving specific examples of how money has exchanged hands and endedup becoming the tool for influencing the judiciary.


Berman, J.J.D. (2009). You May Know the Law But I Own the Judge: WhyCongress Can and Should Get Involved in State Judicial ElectionReform. The Journal of the Legal Profession, 146-178.

Champgne, A. (2011). Judicial selection from a political scienceperspective. Arkansas Law Review, 64 (221). 221-247.