Melissa LandryElections have consequences, for better or for worse. And while most voters are focusing on the Presidential election this November, there is another political battle brewing that has the potential to dramatically impact the state of Louisiana's legal climate.
With Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Kitty Kimball retiring at the end of the year, the balance of our state's highest court is in jeopardy. Dozens of Appellate, District and City Court Judges around the state are also up for election or reelection, so there's a lot at stake.
Our judges wield a tremendous amount of power that is largely unchallenged. They make critical decisions that affect our economy, our health care and our environment. They also have the ability to provide justice for those who have been wronged, and they are responsible for protecting our courts from lawsuit abuse. That's why it is imperative that voters get to know all the candidates before they head to the polls on November 6th.
Numerous national studies have shown most judicial races tend to be "low-information elections" that don't draw a lot of attention from voters. We need to reverse that trend.
The impact of judges can be felt on our lives everyday. Take, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year that upheld the constitutionality of President Barrack Obama's controversial healthcare plan, best known as Obamacare. Or the case they'll be taking up soon to determine the legality of same-sex marriages. Their decisions impact everything we do, so don't take your vote for granted.
Good judges are the foundation of any properly functioning judicial system, and we are fortunate to live in a state where we have the power to choose who represents us on state and district courts. That's why it's so important that voters get to know the candidates—learn about their judicial philosophies and the professional backgrounds they will bring to the bench. It can also be very telling to find out who their campaign contributors are. This information is publicly available through the Louisiana Ethics Administration's website at www.ethics.state.la.us.
The bottom line is good judges really do matter, and so does your vote. These elections are often decided by a very thin margin—sometimes within 100 votes or less. So don't let someone else speak for you on Election Day. Learn about the candidates and make an informed decision on November 6th.
Melissa Landry is Executive Director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a broad-based citizen watchdog group dedicated to improving Louisiana's legal climate.