Senate passes Judicial Election reform
AUSTIN - The Texas Senate today passed legislation from Sens. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, and Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, to allow Texans to decide whether to keep the current elections system in which many judges don't truly face election or adopt a system of appointment and retention that would subject every judge to a vote of the people.
Currently, Texas is one of four states - including Alabama, Louisiana and West Virginia - that conducts politically-charged, high dollar campaigns to elect judges.
Senate Joint Resolution 33 would simply hold a place on the November ballot for Texans to decide whether they want to hold every judge accountable. The legislation is simple: allow Texans to decide what kind of judicial election system they want. If it turns out that a majority of our residents want to maintain the status quo, so be it.
In the most recent election, two-thirds of the judges were unopposed; 17 percent of Texas' current sitting judges have never had an opponent. Judicial election reform requires a vote on every judge.
"This system of judicial elections gives our citizens live ammunition on accountability, a much-needed change from a system where most of the time they are armed only with blanks," Duncan said.
Judicial election reform has gained significant momentum in recent years. Supporters include Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips, the American Bar Association, former Republican Party of Texas Chairman Ray Barnhart, several Texas Supreme Court justices, and many grassroots conservatives throughout the state.
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