The Illinois Civil Justice League has taken its share of pot-shots from the self-described "good government" groups like Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice, and even several related groups in Illinois.
They were horrified in 2004 that a Supreme Court election would generate nearly $10 million of interest from what they decried as "special interests." Never mind the fact that "special interest" groups like the George Soros Foundation are pouring millions into funding their operations.
In 2002, when ICJL was pointing out the lawsuit abuses of a Madison County court system dominated by judges elected with one-sided donations from only plaintiffs attorneys, "good government" groups were nowhere to be found. Now six years later, judges and lawyers from both political parties have acknowledged the electoral success of cleaning up the "judicial hellhole" that once existed in Southern Illinois.
Yet, the Soros-funded groups still cling to the notion that judicial independence and integrity can only be assured by handing the selection of judges over to lawyer-based groups and committees. Democracy and elections are best left to the executive and legislative branches of government, they say.
Trust that lawyers will determine the best people to arbitrate over every minute detail of society that is now ultimately decided in court, they say. This is the way to establish judicial independence, they say.
And, if you feel differently from these groups, be ready to be labeled as an "attack on the judiciary." Free speech is great for Soros' groups, but not for anyone else.
These groups would never admit the need for legal reform, nor would they acknowledge that some judges are better than others. They would never acknowledge an even more dramatic thought that some judges might not be living up the high standards they've been trusted to uphold and maintain.
It's hypocrisy at its worst.
You don't have to look far to find evidence to disprove their claims. For example, an August 2007 study by the University of Chicago Law School that looked at 30,000 opinions from 408 high court judges in every state came to the following conclusion:
Conventional wisdom holds that appointed judges are superior to elected judges because appointed judges are less vulnerable to political pressure. However, there is little empirical evidence to support this view. […] The empirical results do not show appointed judges performing at a higher level than their elected counterparts.
Even the vaunted "Missouri Plan" has come under criticism this year. As Dan Pero of the American Justice Partnership wrote in July:
Under Missouri's current system, an unelected seven-member panel meets in secret to develop a list of three possible candidates for a judicial seat. Three of those seven members are trial lawyers and a fourth, the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, is a member of the Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers. The panel's picks are so partisan that Gov. Matt Blunt fought to reform the commission after it kept sending him the same list of names he had previously rejected.
Then, I found this tidbit in the Washington Post from First Monday, the traditional Monday in October that marks the session start of the US Supreme Court. Plaintiffs' attorneys were fighting Philip Morris again over light cigarettes. One would only think that the U.S. Supreme Court, with its lifetime appointments and high-profile selection process, would be free from "attacks on the judiciary."
The argument in Altria Group v. Good was the latest in a growing national debate over "preemption," a doctrine under which state product liability lawsuits against companies can be thrown out under federal law. […] That has raised concerns among state regulators that their role in defending consumers from tobacco and other harmful products could be threatened.
"We're worried that this is a grand conspiracy by the Supreme Court to prevent states from having any role in enforcing rules against big companies," said Linda J. Conti, assistant attorney general for Maine, which filed legal arguments on behalf of 47 states and the District of Columbia. [Emphasis added]
(You have to wonder if the "grand conspiracy" concept is now the official position of the State of Maine.)
The irony is that the U.S. Supreme Court – free of election worries, partisanship, and million-dollar campaigns – finds itself under the exact same criticism as an elected state supreme court.
I won't hold my breath, waiting for a Soros-funded group to decry the Maine lawyer's comments as more "attacks" on judiciary. I guess if you're taking on a big corporation, you get a free pass from Soros-funded groups.