Regarding the June 20 editorial "Robed Politicians": The contention that appointed judges are likely to have more impressive academic and professional credentials than elected judges might prove to be correct from a detached paper study of comparative data.
However, such a distinction does not necessarily guarantee that appointed jurists bring more solomonic wisdom to the bench than do judges who are elected. Indeed, many appointed judges have had very little pragmatic experience as practicing attorneys and therefore do not relate comfortably to usual run-of-the-mill civil and criminal matters, i.e., the "human experience."
The much more important, highly relevant argument against the appointment of judges, quite ironically, is the very same argument that the PG sets forth as the reason to eliminate judicial elections, namely politics. Just think. Who appoints judges, and what is the principal consideration that a president or governor has in mind when making these appointments? Academic achievement or political ideology?
If you are a liberal, how do you feel about the appointments of Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito?
If you are a conservative, how do you feel about the appointments of Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor?
And keep in mind, federal appointments are for a lifetime. While at state and county levels, judges do have to run every 10 years, those are simply "yes" or "no" retention elections that are not contested by an opponent and are rarely ever subjected to any meaningful challenge.
In the best of all worlds, politics should play no role in the administration of civil and criminal justice. In reality, that is never going to be true in our U.S. democracy. Therefore, the question is which system of judicial selection -- appointed or elected -- has proved to be less politically influenced and controlled. The answer should be obvious.
CYRIL H. WECHT, M.D., J.D.