The author of a proposal to reform the way judicial elections in Minnesota are held pulled his bill rather than having it fail a key House of Representatives committee vote, a key Minneapolis DFLer told the Daily Planet.
The bill would have put a constitutional amendment on the 2010 election ballot asking voters to eliminate competitive judicial elections in favor of a system of governors appointing judges and the people voting whether to retain them.
Mullery said he was willing to give the bill a hearing and in fact would have done so, had Simon not asked to have it removed from a Monday committee hearing list.
“He promised that if we withdrew it, it wouldn’t come up again as an amendment or as some funny business from the Senate,” Mullery said of Simon’s decision. “Otherwise, we were going to hear it and it would have been rejected soundly.”
Mullery, who opposed Simon’s bill as “a solution in search of a problem,” took some heat from House DFL leaders earlier in the session for not giving the bill a hearing.
Mullery did not say which committee members supported or opposed the bill, but that it was a “general consensus” that the bill would not have prevented partisan involvement in judicial elections, only moved it from a focus on candidate campaigns to recall efforts.
With no benefit, Mullery said it wasn’t worth taking away a voter’s right to choose which judge to elect.
Asked why they didn’t approve the bill and then let the voters decide whether to amend the state constitution, Mullery said he was not confident voters would know what they were voting on, and that the interests behind a “yes” vote would have drowned out any discussion with a well-funded campaign and misleading ballot language.
It is possible that the Senate bill, if passed, could be brought to the House floor for a vote, despite the assurances Mullery said he received from Simon.