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Guest column| Jack Bray

Guest column: Forget the president; let's elect the justices

Like house guests who have overstayed their visit, the candidates seeking their party's nomination to run for president are getting on my nerves. It's been, what, about a year since they arrived?

It's not the election that's causing these three to hang around, it's the primaries that not only invited them to come into our lives early, so to speak, but also are still not finished.

The party conventions are not scheduled for another couple of months. And that means we will still be looking at, listening to, and reading about these three, who are beginning to bore me to tears.

Those are not very patriotic sentiments, I know, but come on! Thank God this only happens every four years. Oops, wait a minute. Based on this endless campaign, it will happen again in 2 1/2 years, maybe sooner. Pull down the shades, turn off the lights, don't make a sound, here they come!

All of this got me to thinking. Why do we spend so much money and time choosing a president? Apart from the obvious — that we want someone to represent us on the world stage — the president's impact on our lives is minimal. Why we bombard these candidates with questions about their positions on abortion, the death penalty, immigration, what have you, baffles me. We don't spend that kind of time and money electing our Congress, and those politicians have a more direct impact on our lives.

The folks who do have a very definite impact on our lives are the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, who are not elected by us. Think about that. Nine lawyers, not elected, make legal decisions that directly affect almost every one of us.

Consider Roe vs. Wade, for example. No citizen, especially those opposed to abortion, had any say in the matter, since they did not vote for the judges who voted.

It's interesting to read how the Supreme Court was established. In Article III of the U.S. Constitution, judicial power was granted to "one supreme Court." Yet, the power to appoint "judges of the supreme Court" is buried within Article II, Section II, after "to make treaties, appoint ministers and consuls …"

Since the Supreme Court was established primarily to provide checks and balances to the executive and legislative branches of the government, my guess is that it didn't really matter to the founders who was on that court. I believe they failed to see the impact the court might have on the average citizen. So why elect them?

In light of the long run for the short slide of a job that can only last eight years, it is even more amusing to read that these court justices serve for life. "The Judges … shall hold their offices during good Behaviour." Excuse me? Good behavior? Were they kidding? Good thing "good behavior" wasn't written into the office of president. Can you imagine the questions at these so-called debates?

One final note on why this elongated exercise of the race for the presidency borders on water-boarding the electorate: In the end, the College of Electors elects the president. Don't you love it?

As I mentioned, last time I wrote on this topic, I suggested that maybe we should eliminate these seemingly unending primaries and just have conventions to nominate candidates. Well, I now have a better idea: Maybe we should elect the Supreme Court justices and let them appoint a president.

Would work for me.

Jack Bray is a retired broadcasting executive and former Dunedin resident who now lives in Dunedin.

Guest column: Forget the president; let's elect the justices 04/28/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:16pm]
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