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Judicial retention proposal dead for now

Posted by: Pat Doyle under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota governor, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, National campaigns Updated: April 26, 2010 - 12:48 PM


A proposal to replace contested judicial elections with a system allowing voters to reject judges has been dropped amid opposition from anti-abortion groups and other interests. 

"Ideologically-driven special interest groups at the last minute twisted arms," said Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, who sponsored the measure in the House. He said he pulled the bill after it became apparent that it would be defeated or changed dramatically.

Two anti-abortion groups were among organizations that opposed the proposed retention election system, in which judges would be evaluated by an advisory panel before proceeding to a retention election. If voters gave a thumbs down, the judges would step down and the governor would appoint a replacement.

The bill and a companion in the Senate called for a proposed state constitutional amendment to appear on the November ballot to change the current judicial elections to a retention system.

"We're opposed to it," said Scott Fischbach, executive director of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. He said eliminating contested elections is "never a positive thing...when you're trying to change the law, which is what we're trying to do. It's another hindrance in us trying to change the law."

He cited a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling expanding abortion rights as an example of the kind of ruling his group would like to reverse or avoid in the future.

Simon said the proposed legislation would likely be revisited next year.


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