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Federalist Society hosts debate on judicial selection

The Elon Law chapter of The Federalist Society hosted a debate at the law school on January 11 between University of Kansas School of Law Professor Stephen Ware and Duke Law Professor Paul Carrington about the best way to select judges.

University of Kansas School of Law Professor Stephen Ware

"Professor Carrington and Professor Ware's insights were very timely, since the judicial selection process is under evaluation right now in North Carolina,” said Jack Westall L’13, president of Elon Law’s chapter of The Federalist Society. “As the debate on pending changes continues it was great to have two views on elements we need to be mindful of when selecting judges. The Federalist Society was pleased to share these leading voices with an audience that will have a say in how North Carolina changes its judicial selection process.”

Ware cautioned the audience to be mindful of special commissions that select judges, elected or appointed, because it can undermine the one man, one vote principal. A special commission that selects judges to be picked leaves the voters out of the nominating process he said.

“Ware's advocacy for adopting the federal judicial selection model at the state level shines a light on a reform proposal that leaves everyone in the state with an equal vote,” Westall said.

Carrington highlighted the need for some type of reform from the current system as the political process can lead to skewed results. He questioned the impact that partisan politics and money has on judges that should be fair minded. With much of his career devoted to analyzing how we choose judges, Carrington offered several examples of judges who had lost their re-election bid based on a decision they had made on the bench. He also noted the need for some type of term limits so that judges do not sit on the bench indefinitely. Judges who sit on the bench for too long lose touch with everyday perceptions and can become too powerful he said.

Duke Law Professor Paul Carrington

Carrington's professional experience includes private practice, work in a military law office, and occasional consultations over fifty years, most of them pro bono. Since his teaching career began in 1957, he has taught in fifteen American law schools, as well as the University of Tokyo, Albert Ludwigs Universitat Freiburg, Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, and Doshisha University Law School in Kyoto. He has been at Duke since 1978, serving as dean from 1978 to 1988. He has been active in judicial law reform efforts, particularly with regard to the jurisdiction of appellate courts, the rules of civil litigation, and the selection and tenure of judges in state courts. From 1985 to 1992, he served as reporter to the committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States advising the Supreme Court on changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Ware is the author of Principles of Arbitration Law, Principles of Alternative Dispute Resolution, Arbitration Law in America and numerous law review articles and columns. He is a frequent speaker at academic conferences, continuing legal education programs and other events. He has testified before both houses of the U.S. Congress, state legislatures and, as an expert witness, in court. He has appeared on several television and radio stations and been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times, National Law Journal and many other newspapers.

Elon Law Professor Scott Gaylord, who has writes and speaks on judicial selection regularly, provided welcoming remarks at the event.

Reporting for this article provided by Jack Westall L’13


Philip Craft,
1/19/2012 9:18 AM