Thursday, October 13, 2005

Which One Isn't?

From a Chron article on Prop. 77, this head-scratcher of a comment:

Costa also has the backing -- and financial support -- of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has made the redistricting effort one of his priorities in the Nov. 8 special election.

The whole damn election is his "priority" - especially now that the honeymoon period is so over the voters may be asking for a divorce soon. (And, no, I mean the '06 election, not some recall effort that shouldn't get any coverage whatsoever.)

The article is otherwise a nice recap of the story so far - the pros, the cons, and the foolish objections: like the argument that retired judges will be evil, old white men who don't get the needs of a diverse state. I still maintain that if people looked at this reform with a lens longer than 10 years it would really help.

The bench is changing. And if it isn't changing fast enough - by all means, start running candidates you like now. You can do that in California. It's a horrible thing that you can do that, but since you can, good god, why not take advantage of it?

The question is, as ever, whom do judges represent?

Whom would a independent redistricting commission represent?

Answer it - I dare you.

Incidently, I asked Peter Shrag the same question in response to his column on Prop. 77 that relies heavily on the evil-white-judge oppo-bite. If he answers, I'll let you know.

(h/t to for the links.)

1 comment:

jbl said...

Whom do judges represent?
Whom would an independent commission represent?

From a gut reaction standpoint, I think that's part of the problem. We don't know who these people would represent. And it seems to me, that when we're talking about who's going to represent us in Congress or the Legislature, we want to know who these people are.

Judges are supposed to represent the rule of law. Their interests are supposed to be subordinated to this higher calling. Just because the commissioners are retired judges doesn't mean they will feel the same obligations to this higher calling that they felt while sitting on the bench. But on the other hand, you're right, there is no indication that they will show great bias or exert their personal will on the people of California.

But I think ultimately, part of the resistance to retired judges making up the panel is that these people haven't been vetted by the public like most of our legislators have (yes we vote for judges, but we certainly don't vote for judges with an eye to who's going to be redistricting, and we never know as much about them in an election as other offices - not to mention the fact that we don't elect federal judges who are also eligible for these positions).

With regard to redistricting, we want our interests represented. That we can't say who the indepent commission will represent is part of the problem it seems.