On Thursday evening, March 21, the State Senate Judiciary Committee recommended to pass and re-referred S.F. 1082, the Judicial Retention Elections Amendment to the Committee on Rules and Administration. Unfortunately, this means Minnesotans are still in danger of losing their right to vote for judges.
Retention elections mean that judges are always appointed, never elected. Voters are only allowed to remove a seated judge from office. If a judge loses a retention election, his replacement is again appointed. Therefore, voters never elect their judges.
The 5-3 vote was straight down party lines with the three Republican Senators Julianne Ortmann, Warren Limmer, and Dan Hall voting to stop the amendment from moving forward and thereby upholding Minnesotans' right to vote for judges and the Minnesota Republican Party platform's position on judicial elections.
Sen. Kathy Sheran (D), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who represents Nicollet County and Mankato (click here for Senate District 19 map), voted to keep the bill alive. Please contact her and respectfully express your concern about her vote to take away your right to vote for judges! This is also Letter to the Editor worthy. See our Resources page for Letter to the Editor criteria specific to local papers.
There is some good news though. Republican Sen. Dave Thompson removed his name as a sponsor from this bill! Please call Dave at 651-296-5252 and thank him.
There are several Republicans who still need to be persuaded to remove their names as sponsors of either the House or Senate versions of the “Retention” Amendment:
Mike Beard email@example.com 651-296-8872
Joe Schomacker firstname.lastname@example.org 651-296-5505
Joe Hoppe email@example.com 651-296-5066
Tim Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org 651-296-8635
Tim Sanders email@example.com 651-296-4226
Dave Senjem firstname.lastname@example.org 651-296-3903
Julie Rosen email@example.com 651-296-5713
It's urgent that you contact these Republican legislators and tell them to support the Republican Platform, which clearly shows the Republican Party's opposition to this Amendment.
Our RPM 2012 Platform states: "We support contested, not 'retention,' election of judges as provided by the Minnesota Constitution and oppose any proposals to eliminate or limit these elections."