Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Judges Campaigns with Issue Positions!

If the Family Trust Foundation gets their way judicial candidates will probably sink to the level of the rest of Kentucky's political races. The organization has filed a lawsuit in U.S District Court arguing that the state's judicial-ethics laws are a violation of a judge's rights to free speech and association. Foundation members want a federal judge to allow state judicial candidates to state their views on political issues. The group sent a survey to judicial candidates asking their views on cloning, gay marriage, religious freedom, pornography, posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings, abortion and other hot button issues.

Kentucky state law does not allow candidates in judicial races to give opinions on issues that are likely to come before the court. The purpose of judicial-ethics regulations is to protect state judges from pre-committing themselves on issues. In other words, Kentucky wants judges to be fair and impartial and has imposed ethics rules to protect the court. Yes, this does limit a judge's freedom of speech and association. That is the price candidates accept if they wish to become members of the judiciary.

We, as citizens, cannot afford to lose those protections. The right to free speech in judicial races must be secondary to the right of citizens to a fair trial. Judges are not lawmakers, they are charged with the weighty task of interpreting the law and applying it impartially. Their duty demands that they be concerned with the law not with their personal feelings. Otherwise, they are unfit to sit in judgment.

Mr. Ostrander, executive director of the foundation, cannot understand the need for a court divorced from the sorted political battles engaged in at other levels of government. Perhaps, he has not watched Senator Bunning's commercial attacking his opponent, or seen the fights breaking out all over Lexington over ownership of the water company. Let us pray that the federal courts stand behind Kentucky in the effort to keep the judiciary out of the mud pits of politics.


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