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Publication Date

January 2011


In Arkansas, we elect judges, and all indications are that we will continue to do so. Attempts to change to some variation of a merit-selection plan have been rejected. The proposed Constitution of 1970 included a partial merit-selection plan. This Constitution was soundly rejected by the people. Although the merit-selection plan was not the determining factor in the defeat, it certainly did not generate popular support. Accordingly, the proposed Constitution of 1980 simply asked the people to later vote on whether to have a judiciary selected by merit. But the entire Constitution again failed. Despite calls for a merit-selection plan, the revised Article VII contained in Amendment 80 retained the popular election of trial and appellate judges. It passed in 2000. If anything, support for the merit-selection plan has likely declined in recent years in light of the perceived judicial activism observed in other states. The focus has shifted to avoidance of the abuses of judicial elections.The focus of my commentary is how the impact of judicial contributions and involvement in judicial campaigns should affect judicial recusal.

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