Judicial endorsements

The Minnesota Republican Party disrupted the political-judicial relationship earlier this month when it endorsed some candidates for judgeships and refused to endorse several others. The party’s partisan intrusion into judicial elections on June 9 and 10 during its state convention is unsettling. Our state’s constitution was purposefully drafted to avoid politically appointed judges by having them elected to their positions. Political endorsements inhibit judicial impartiality and should not be repeated.
Delegates at the convention endorsed three appellate-court judges and one Supreme Court candidate. The delegates, however, refused to endorse four sitting Supreme Court justices — all appointees of former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson. Oddly, the Republicans did not endorse Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, who has a consistently conservative record. What angered delegates about Blatz was a judicial rule she had helped create that properly excluded judges from attending political gatherings.
Our constitution’s drafters created an elected judicial branch to reduce the likelihood for partiality. Citizens should not be given the option to vote for judges based on their political stance through party endorsements but on the judges’ legal expertise.