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17 February 2012

Legislation Requiring Judges to Declare Their Party Affiliation Proposed

Imagine this.

Imagine going to the polls on election day, and seeing the Democrat or Republican party label next to candidates for judge.

It seems a little far-fetched, does it not?

A judge is expected to be impartial. Having a judge declare whether they are a Republican or a Democrat flies in the face of judicial impartiality. But a new bill, Senate Bill 457, would require elected judges to run as a Republican or a Democrat in judicial elections.

S.B. 457 --sponsored by Jeff Mullis, Barry Loudermilk, Renee Unterman, Charlie Bethel, Curt Thompson, and Chip Rogers-- makes every elected office in Georgia a partisan office. Under S.B. 457, nonpartisan elections for state court judges and local school board members would be a thing of the past. Senate Bill 457 would bring party politics to every election in this state.

S.B. 457 does, however, contain a provision which allows voters to determine whether they want to inject partisanship into judicial and school board elections.

A referendum is required for each county in this state to decide whether to keep nonpartisan elections. If the county does not hold a referendum, every elected office in the county automatically becomes a partisan office.

Obviously, there are certain elected offices where party affiliation matters. Judicial offices are not one of them. Senate Bill 457 should never again see the light of day. Senate Bill 457 should die in committee, because Senate Bill 457 is a bad bill.