Incoming ABA President Calls for Judicial Reform
This week, incoming American Bar Association
President H. Thomas Wells, Jr. of Alabama, gave a rousing speech at the organization’s annual meeting
in New York City. Wells called for improvements in the methods for appointing and electing judges, criticizing the increasing influence that politics and money have in the process. From the Legal Times:
“The federal judicial nomination and confirmation process has been bogged down by “lengthy partisan conflict and delay,” Wells said, adding that if compared to the making of sausage, it would be “an insult to sausage makers.”
The ABA is also set to vote on recommendations for Congress; the proposed resolution asks Congress to encourage greater bi-partisanship and more better communication between the executive and legislative branches over nominations. Since President Bush took office, the ABA has played a less significant role in selection; the President no longer takes ABA ratings for judges into consideration as he makes his decision, although the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to peruse the ABA evaluations before confirmation. In his address, Wells indicated that the ABA will support whichever approach the next president chooses.
Finally, Wells bemoaned the large sums spent on state judicial elections, which have harmed courts’ reputations for impartiality. He also unveiled a new website resource for elections laws, aimed at encouraging voting and public involvement in the judicial process.