Under the Dome

O'Connor: N.C. shouldn't elect judges

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said she'd like to see the state move away from electing judges.

"We are the only nation in the world that elects its judges," O'Connor said at
an appearance at the Elon University School of Law on Monday. "We are just way out in left field on this."

O'Connor, who retired in 2006 after 25 years on the high court, said that in her home state of Arizona, the quality of judges improved after the state stopped electing them.

"You still do that in North Carolina, I'm sorry to say — very sorry to
say — that's not a good way to go," O'Connor said, according to a news release from the university.

Noting that the U.S. Constitution requires federal judges to be selected and appointed by the president, with advice and consent by the Senate, O'Connor said the states originally used similar systems.

Monday's visit was O'Connor's second in four years. In 2006, she dedicated the university's law school.

O'Connor noted North Carolina's recent efforts to improve its elections process for judges, but said those steps are not sufficient.

"I know you have some public funding of elections, and it's nonpartisan, but that doesn't do enough," O'Connor said. "I hope that someday you'll think about something else in North Carolina."

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