October 24, 2005

"No Way to Judge a Judge"

Law.com has posted this oped by David Ettinger on an aspect of proposed California Proposition 73 (parental notification for abortion) (paid subscription required). A snippet of interest to election law:

    Hidden toward the end of the nearly 3,000-word initiative is the requirement that each court publicly report annually "by judge" the number of petitions granted and denied in the trial and appellate courts. Thus, if Prop 73 passes, every judge and appellate justice in this state who rules on a minor's petition for a waiver of parental notification will have his or her own abortion scorecard.

    It is not difficult to see the mischief that these annual reports could cause. Advocacy groups on either side of the abortion debate could (mis)use a judge or justice's scorecard during contested superior court elections, appellate court retention elections, or even judicial recall elections. It is not far-fetched to imagine a campaign flier proclaiming that Judge X or Justice Y "ordered the killing of 10 unborn children last year," a statement, incidentally, that would not be far from legal accuracy since another thing Prop 73 would do is define "abortion" as "caus[ing] the death of the unborn child."

Posted by Rick Hasen at October 24, 2005 08:08 AM