O’Connor Advisory Committee member and former Texas chief justice Wallace Jefferson recently appeared on MSNBC’s Craig Melvin show. That segment of the program focused on the findings of the latest New Politics of Judicial Elections report from Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice, which examines special interest spending in the 2011-12 election cycle. In his remarks, Jefferson acknowledged the value of judicial accountability but suggested that voters do not have enough information about judges and judicial candidates to cast votes based on merit. Instead, in states like Texas that hold partisan elections, the voting decision may be based primarily—or even exclusively—on party affiliation. Texas is one of three states where straight-ticket voting is an option in judicial elections. Chief Justice Jefferson’s comments begin at the 2:40 mark.
Another O’Connor Advisory Committee member, Meryl Chertoff of the Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program, recently wrote about the dangers of straight ticket voting in judicial elections for the Albany Law Review.