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The Idaho Supreme Court: Appointment vs. Election, Part II

April 26th, 2007 by Halli

In Part I, the Idaho Judicial Council and the process for appointing or electing a justice to the Idaho Supreme Court was discussed. Read Part I here.

Two of the attorneys vying for the soon-to-be-vacant seat on the Idaho Supreme Court are Bart Davis, senate majority leader in the Idaho Senate, and Marvin Smith, in private practice in Idaho Falls.

Bart Davis has long voiced his opinion that Supreme Court justices should be appointed. But denying voters a voice in the selection isn’t the only reason he would like to be considered for the position. He would love the prestige and responsibility without the effort of the campaign.

Davis claims he hates elections. He is, as he likes to remind everyone within earshot, just a little country lawyer. Every two years when he must campaign for his senate seat, he finds an opportunity (always in front of the news camera) to put his arm around his opponent (never a serious contender), and smile sadly to show how much it will pain him to win. An appointment to the Supreme Court would save him the rigors of a campaign, something for which he has no stomach.

And Marvin Smith has already had a shot a judgeship. He served as a district judge in Idaho Falls for a short period of time, but soon stepped down, saying it just wasn’t for him. Should he be appointed, would Smith soon tire of the Supreme Court routine? It would seem risky at best to give him the opportunity to find out.

I am unfamiliar with the other candidates, but their eagerness to be appointed rather than elected to the position categorically disqualifies them, in my opinion.

In conclusion, the constitution of the State of Idaho actually specifies that Supreme Court justices will be elected, and makes no provision for their appointment. Once again the Idaho Judicial Council, and specifically Gerald Schroeder, have succeeded in circumventing the voters, under the pretext of “keeping politics out of the judiciary”.

The only consolation is that in 1-½ years, whoever is appointed will face the ballot box.

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