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Politics should stay out of Supreme Court, former judge says


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With polls opening in two months, it’s not just President Barack Obama who’s fighting to stay in office.

In November, Florida residents can vote to either keep or replace some state Supreme Court justices and Appeals Court judges.

Former Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus spoke in Gainesville as part of the Florida Free Speech Forum, expressing her concern about the role of politics in judicial elections.

Ternus was voted off the court when she decided to overturn her state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“Make no mistake about it,” she said. “Politicized judicial elections undermine judicial independence and confidence in the courts.”

The trend will result in a judiciary that is less likely to be fair and impartial, she said.

Ternus discussed a 2001 national poll conducted by Justice at Stake, a national, nonpartisan organization with which aims to keep courts impartial and fair, which found 76 percent of voters surveyed believed campaign contributions affect a courtroom’s decision.

“Do we really want a court system where judges campaign like politicians?”

Katherine Hahn edited this for online.

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