Appeals court judge rules election process of Marion County judges is unconstitutional

Staff Report
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – An appeals court judge has ruled that the process used to elect new judges in Marion County is unconstitutional.

“There is no more important right in our Constitution than that of exercising a meaningful vote,” said Ken Falk, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana legal director, in a statement. “We are very pleased that the Court’s decision forcefully reaffirms that right.”

The ACLU of Indiana filed the lawsuit in 2012 on behalf of Common Cause Indiana. It challenged the process of electing a new judge. State law requires that each major party nominate candidates for only one half of judicial vacancies.

The ACLU of Indiana took up arms against the statute because it deprived voters of their right to vote for qualified candidates.

“Voters in Marion County who did not cast a ballot in the primary election had absolutely no say in electing judges,” The ACLU of Indiana opined in a statement. “Even people who did vote in the primary election had a say in only half of the judgeships.”

The seventh Circuit ruling criticized the new process, reasoning that Marion County voters had been deprived of any real choice in the election of candidates.

At this point there has been no indication what reforms might be instituted to ensure the public’s right to vote for qualified new judges.

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