Picking Judges

Ernie Fletcher, the governor of Kentucky, has used his line-item veto authority to cancel $370 million worth of government projects. Naturally, this has caused consternation among ...
by | April 27, 2006

Gavel_2 Ernie Fletcher, the governor of Kentucky, has used his line-item veto authority to cancel $370 million worth of government projects. Naturally, this has caused consternation among many of the people and institutions who were counting on getting their hands on that money.

For instance, the University of Louisville is threatening to pull its funds out of the planned downtown basketball arena, since Fletcher cut some other bond money the university really, really wanted.

But one of Fletcher's actions was a little more unusual. He managed to cancel the election of 9 new judges this November. His argument is that, since the judgeships won't actually be created until January, it would be unconstituional to hold elections before then.

I won't pretend to be able to challenge Fletcher on Kentucky law, but the upshot of this is clear. He'll get to appoint the new judges himself come January.

"Of all the vetoes across the executive branch and the judicial budget, that particular one is the most disturbing to me," state House Majority Whip Joe Barrows told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "You could raise the whole specter of packing courts."

If you're interested in the question of elected vs. appointed judges (particularly in Kentucky), you should read Blogmeister Zach's feature in Governing last month.