News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


More evidence on need for court election reform

There are dozens of theories on how best to select state judges, but one thing is certain: Alabama's method does not work.

The most recent demonstration of the failures of our system of electing judges came with two announcements by state Supreme Court Justice Drayton Nabers Jr.

In the first announcement, the court declared that Justice Nabers would not participate in Exxon Mobil's appeal of a $3.6 billion verdict for the state. The statement was obviously in response to accusations by Mr. Nabers' opponent in the race for chief justice, Judge Sue Bell Cobb. Many of her advertisements have focused upon Nabers' campaign contributions, saying they came in part from "Big Oil."

The other demonstration of the system's failure came the same day. In his own ad campaigns, Justice Nabers has accused Judge Cobb of accepting gambling money. Nabers' ads claim Nabers "fought against the gambling bosses." That led to a motion by dog track operator Milton McGregor that the chief justice step aside from hearing an appeal involving the legality of electronic sweepstakes machines at the Birmingham dog track.

The end result? Delays and the loss of judicial expertise on two of the most important issues facing Alabamians.

A judicial selection system that forces candidates to either make campaign promises and violate them in the name of fairness once in office, or comply with those promises and demonstrate bias once in office, is a broken system.

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