Judges: Elected or appointed?

Dean Barkley, who was a U.S. senator because Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed him after the death of Paul Wellstone in 2002, has announced plans to run for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

He’ll challenge Associate Justice Barry Anderson.

“I decided to try a different approach,” he tells the Star Tribune. Presumably, he’s referring to getting elected to something. He finished third in the 2008 U.S. Senate race, and also ran for the job in 1994 and 1996.

He could be right. Most people have no clue about judicial candidates on the ballot, and there are restrictions on what candidates for judicial positions can say. A little name recognition could go a long way.

It also could lead to the ongoing debate of whether it’s better to have judges elected or appointed.

Of course, if judges are merely appointed, you don’t get neat campaign jingles and ads.

  • Mark Gisleson

    I think your previous post speaks very loudly to this issue.

  • Conner

    Maybe a hybrid? Appointed initially, after a 2-3 year time frame they are on the ballot. I think they would run unopposed and just have a yes/no question and need 50.1%. If elected they get 10-15 years and then that’s that. I think the people should have the option to say no initially, but judges should be able to make rulings without worrying about the people disagreeing. They should base their rulings on the Constitution and precedent not on whether it will let them keep their job.

  • doug sandels

    Generally I prefer the judiciary to be apolitical, but Gee, Barry’s opinions are so comically bad (State v. Peck being the most prominent example) that I would have likely voted for just about any challenger to him.

  • BJ

    I’ve worked with Dean on several campaigns including his US Senate race in 2008 when he was a client.

    Very nice guy, humble.

    I remember just sitting next to him while he was making campaign buttons for some candidate. Just talking sports and holding a cigar. That was the day before he became a Senator.

  • Suzanne

    The danger of appointments is the favors that a governor owes after he or she is elected – judicial appointments come in pretty handy as paybacks. The danger of elections is that people do not take the time to research the judges on the ballot and the incumbent usually wins.

    Finally, I strongly agree with the post on the ridiculousness of the Peck decision. Ridiculous.