Hate to follow any news story, especially one from a pub I used to work for, but sometimes it can't be helped. Especially when someone like brother reporter John Council looks toward the sky and notices it's falling on the Dallas County Republican Party. In this week's Texas Lawyer, Council reports that of the 12 Dallas County Republican trial judges whose terms are up in 2010, six are bench-bouncing to the Democrats, forsaking the party that brought them to the dance and leaving with someone else.
All are singing the same song: "It's the demography, stupid."
The political sin of flip-floppery is anything but uncommon among the state's elected judiciary. Dallas County Democratic judges jumped ship during the Reagan Revolution of the '80s and '90s, and now that the pendulum is swinging toward the Democrats again, Criminal District Judge John Creuzot, a Democrat turned Republican, has led the way in this election cycle by returning to the Democratic fold. Hence, the video above -- brought to you by the Dallas County Young Democrats two weeks ago.
Truth is, prevailing winds having little to do with judicial values such as fairness, independence and integrity -- although some would argue that loyalty is a component of integrity. Breaking the party faith is more a problem with party activists than voters, who generally have little or no idea who to vote for in crowded judicial elections, which in some cycles are littered in with as many as 50 different races. Which is why the straight-party lever pull is so effective in turning lawyers into judges.
But once on the bench, judges should be apolitical, and if they are not, they shouldn’t be on the bench.
To hasten Republican jurists along (or coerce them, depending on your political affiliation), Dallas County Democratic Party chair Darlene Ewing, according to Texas Lawyer, says if these Rs want to feel the love from Ds, they better come early to the party, and by early she means before Election Day. Otherwise who knows what evil might befall them (read: contested primary) if they hedge their bets and wait to see if the Dems are really as strong as they claim. --Mark Donald