That leaves the voters. But if we argue, as we do, that voters should not oust a judge because of a single ruling, what should they do? There is already too little information for voters to make informed decisions on judicial elections, so it would be asking a lot to expect them to identify the judges who repeatedly make bad decisions and target them for removal.
Critics of judicial elections call for California to adopt a federal-type system of lifetime appointments, but it’s hard for us to see state lawmakers as similar in stature or ability to the U.S. Senate, which confirms federal judicial appointees. In the tug-of-war between judges’ independence and accountability, though, it’s also increasingly difficult to muster the arguments for continuing to elect them.