Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Two unnecessary - but conservative - Supreme Court justices. Price: $4.2 million.

So says Chief Justice Leah Sears:

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears added that she opposes the idea of adding two more justices to the seven-member state Supreme Court, an idea that is being pushed by a conservative legal group.

Speaking to reporters after an address to state lawmakers meeting at the University of Georgia in Athens, Sears said the state's top court is able to handle its current caseload and hasn't even asked for a new law clerk. Each additional justice would cost about $2.1 million a year, when pensions and other fringe benefits are added in, she said.

"We do not have a caseload problem," Sears said. "Typically, if we have a need we make a request and we have not made that request."

Sears' thoughts on financing of judicial elections:

In the wake of the Hunstein-Wiggins race there have been calls for a ban on contributions to judges from lawyers with cases before the jurists.

Sears threw cold water on that idea, saying lawyers know the judges best and are often the only ones motivated to give to their campaigns.

But Sears said she could support limits on the amount of money political parties pour into judicial races. She conceded an outright ban could raise First Amendment issues.

So, "there have been calls" . . . from whom? From what I understand, "lawyers with cases before the jurists" is code for trial lawyers, and the calls have come from business. Business, of course, still believes it should be able to contribute as much as it wants, whenever it wants, to whomever it wants. Business calls this reform. I call it unilateral disarmament.

Reform - that would be public financing of judicial elections. Business wouldn't want that, tho, because it wouldn't allow them to exploit their monetary advantage over the rest of us.