Scott Gaylord analyzes judicial selection on NPR
The Diane Rehm Show, a Peabody award winning radio show with 2.2 million weekly listeners across more than 190 National Public Radio (NPR) affiliated stations, featured Elon Law Professor Scott Gaylord on the Sept. 5 edition, “Fairness in State Courts: Electing vs. Appointing State Judges.”
Discussing the pros and cons of the different judicial selection processes, Gaylord suggested that citizens consider things like accountability, independence and qualifications when deciding between judicial elections or appointments.
“I don’t think anyone will challenge the view that judges are political at some level,” Gaylord said on the show. “The legal realists really harped on this at the turn of the 20th century. We see that with the nomination and confirmation process in the federal system now.”
With 95 percent of cases being decided at the state level, according to Diane Rehm, the method through which judges are selected can have a significant impact on the people of a state.
“It’s highly political and the views of judges - on things from theories of statutory constructions, federalism, separation of powers, judicial restraint - all bare on how they decide cases,” Gaylord said on the show. “That’s true whether they are appointed or elected and as a result I think it’s important for the citizens in the states across the country know that and be able to respond accordingly in terms of their voting.”
Gaylord joined a panel of two other guests, Ian Millhiser, senior constitutional policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, who discussed the different judicial selection processes used in various states; and Charlie Hall, editor of “Justice at Stake,” who discussed how the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commissions is impacting judicial selections.
“I take the view, as Churchill famously stated, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others,” Gaylord said on the show. “To me, judicial elections probably fit in the same category. There are different concerns. There is no perfect way to select judges.”
Professor Gaylord has published scholarship and contributed public commentary on the judicial selection debate, including a North Carolina Law Review Addendum article and an op-ed in the Raleigh, N.C.-based News & Observer.
By Courtney Roller, L'13