ShouldJudges in Canada be Elected or Appointed?
Thesis:Judges in Canada should be elected rather than appointed consideringthe benefits of advantages of elected judges outweigh those ofappointed judges.
Topicsentence 1:The argument on whether judges should be voted in through competitiveelections or appointed by the relevant authorities has been acontentious issue in Canada for several years.
Both approaches have pros and cons
Comparing the two sets of pros and cons can help identify the better option.
Topicsentence 2: InCanada, judges are appointed at the national or provincial levels
There are several tests for candidates before appointment.
Basic qualifications for candidates such as serving as a lawyer for five years.
Topicsentence 3: Advantagesof appointed judges
They seek justice more than popularity.
Topicsentence 4: Advantagesof appointed judges continued
It is line with the intentions of the founding fathers of the nation.
TopicSentence 5: Disadvantagesof appointed judges
Limits the voice of the people on judicial matters
TopicSentence 6: Advantages of elected judges
They are loyal to the electorate
TopicSentence 7: Advantagesof elected judges continued
There are checks and balances to evaluate performance and perform disciplinary action.
TopicSentence 8: Disadvantagesof elected judges
Political interference in the election process
Thereare two key ways by which one becomes a judge depending on acountry’s judicial system by the election or by appointment. InCanada, judges are appointed. However, there have been calls for anoverhaul of the Canadian judicial. The biggest factor driving thiscampaign is to desire to introduce the election of judges by theelectorate (Macfarlane, 2014). The election and appointment of judgeshave their cons and pros. Elected judges are seen to be moretransparent and accountable to the electorate than appointed ones.Appointed judges, on the other hand, are prone to politicalmanipulation especially in cases where the appointment is biased andpolitically motivated. Judges in Canada should be elected rather thanappointed considering the benefits of advantages of elected judgesoutweigh those of appointed judges.
Theargument on whether judges should be voted in through competitiveelections or appointed by the relevant authorities has been acontentious issue in Canada for several years. Each side of thedivide has offered endless reasons and facts to justify why theirchosen approach is the best for the Canadian judicial system. Toidentify the better option between appointed and elected judges, itis crucial to explore the advantages and drawbacks of each method.This comparison will make it possible to make a choice of the bettermethod between the two by highlighting and comparing the benefits andloopholes of each approach.
InCanada, judges are appointed at the national or provincial levels.The names for consideration are forwarded to a committee that is incharge of this process (Malleson & Russell, 2006). Before theirappointment, the candidates have to pass many rigorous tests beforethey can become judges. For instance, all judges joining the benchfor the first time have to be lawyers who have practiced lawirrespective of the level of courts they will be serving in if theycomplete the appointment process. In reality, most of theappointments made fall on lawyers who have been practicing for ten ormore years.
Appointedjudges have several advantages that earn this approach considerablesupport. One of these benefits is impartiality as they carry outtheir court responsibilities. Appointed judges are observed to bemore after seeking justice, unlike elected judges. The reason forthis scenario is that appointed judges have the power to go againstpublic opinion in the court duties. Unlike elected judges, they donot have to please the public or politicians since they do not needto raise money or votes when they seek an extension of theircontracts or reappointments (Shepherd, 2009). Since they do not havealways to worry about public and political views, their judicialroles are more independent and impartial.
Theother advantage of appointed judges is that this approach appears tobe in line with the intentions of the founding fathers of theCanadian nation. Supporters of this school of thought argue that thecountry’s founding fathers did not intend the elections of judicialofficials such as judges to be done by popular vote (Courtney, 2014).With this mindset in mind, the founders of Canada made a judicialsystem that favored the appointment of judges to serve in thecountry’s justice system. Their biggest motivation behind this movewas to have a court system that operates without worrying about thepublic popularity of the decisions made by judges.
Onthe flipside, appointed judges have several disadvantages that havebeen highlighted by its critics. The biggest drawback of this processof judicial appointment is that it limits the voice of the people onmatters of judicial appointment. The system is also seen to threatenthe democratic principles of Canadians. Appointment of judges takesaway the power that should be in the hands of the electorate andgives it to a few individuals who are charged with the responsibilityof appointing judges (Macfarlane, 2013). To gain appointments to thebench, candidates must agree with the political aspirations of theappointing figure. The result of this qualified candidates withoutpolitical connections miss out on these appointments.
Electedjudges, just like appointed judges, have their advantages anddisadvantages. Starting with the advantages, the election of judgesis seen to make judges who are loyal to the electorate who got themin office. Judges, as part of their job obligations, have theresponsibility to interpret the law of the land without fear orfavor. Election of judges ensures that judges carry out theirconstitutional duties in a way that is answerable to the people theyserve (Courtney, 2004). This is in contrast to appointed judges whoserve in a way that seeks to please the people who appointed to theirpositions. Although it is not feasible to have politically neutraljudges, the election of judges enables voters to identify thepolitical beliefs of all candidates and vote for the one who sharethe same political views as they do.
Theother advantage of electing judges is that it creates checks andbalances of evaluating their performance and taking the necessarydisciplinary measures when need be. For instance, elected judges areelected to serve for a given period after which they have to bereelected again, unlike appointed judges who in most cases server forunregulated periods of time. Since they can lose their positions ifthey do not meet the expectations of the people who voted for them,elected judges work more diligently to get reelected.
Onthe downside, elected judges have several drawbacks. Duringelections, the people may vote the less qualified candidate sincethey are more popular or more politically connected. By default,legal training, education and work experience are some of the keyfactors that should be considered when electing a judge. However, theelectorate may not be able to distinguish between two contenders asfar as the important factors mentioned above are concerned. In mostcases, judges will get elected based on political grounds (Greene,2014). This may put less qualified individuals to serve in thejudiciary and lock out the most qualified ones when they have alittle political influence on the voters.
Asillustrated in the prose above, both ways of becoming a judge havetheir shares of advantages and disadvantages. As expected, the dutiesof judges cannot be free from political interference and influence.In the case of appointed judges, the appointing parties can beinfluenced by their political affiliations and connections in theirappointments. On the other hand, the election of judges is apolitical process just like the election of other political leaders.Between the two approaches, electing judges seem to be the betteroption. Elected judges have more checks and balances such as stricttime contracts and reelections that keep them performing optimally.By giving the voter the power to vote out or retain judges after thestipulated time of their contracts expires, the election of judges isthe best approach that Canada can use to bring about the desiredchanges to its judicial system. The decisions made by judges havefar-reaching impacts on the electorate. Consequently, the election ofjudges in Canada should involve the electorate since their duties aredirectly related to the political views of the voters they serve.
Courtney,J. C. (2004). Elections.Vancouver: UBC Press.
Greene,I. (2014). TheCharter of Rights and Freedoms: 30+ years of decisions that shapeCanadian life.
Macfarlane,E. (2013). Governingfrom the bench: The Supreme Court of Canada and the judicial role.
Malleson,K., & Russell, P. H. (2006). Appointingjudges in an age of judicial power: Critical perspectives from aroundthe world.Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press.
Shepherd,J. M. (2009). Are Appointed Judges Strategic Too? DukeLaw Journal,1589-1626.