Three statewide candidates are bucking longstanding tradition in the lead-up to Tuesday’s election: Judicial candidates Dan Griffith, Tim Tingelstad and Greg Wersal are openly weighing in on issues that could come before them if elected, and all three have endorsements by major political parties. Coming from tea party backgrounds, they have aligned themselves with the Republican Party, the Minnesota Family Council and, in one case, the Constitution Party of Minnesota, and fitting the conservative bent of those groups, the trio has opined about contentious social issues from abortion and homosexuality to the role of Christianity in schools and courtrooms. While these activities are legal, critics say that they could undermine the impartiality and nonpartisan nature of the judiciary.
So begins a tale of religious corruption of the judiciary.
But Griffith is also a servant of God. An evangelical Christian, he indicated on a Minnesota Family Council questionnaire (PDF) that he opposes court decisions that allow for public funding of abortion, prohibit school prayer and ban the posting of the Ten Commandments on public property. He agreed with court cases that banned adoption by same-sex couples and assisted suicide.
Griffith’s opponent, incumbent Judge Stauber, says that justices identifying with social issues or political parties is detrimental to an impartial judiciary.
Griffith makes it clear he has pre-judged cases that are likely to come before his court. This is not remotely proper judicial conduct.
A social conservative, Wersal opposed a Minnesota court decision which overturned sodomy laws. He’s been a popular tea party speaker around the state, and is endorsed by the Republican party. While he doesn’t mention his faith as publicly as Griffith, he answered the Minnesota Family Council’s controversial questionnaire answering virtually the same as Griffith except one instance: Wersal opposed overturning sodomy laws, Griffith agreed they were unconstitutional.
Wersal has been instrumental in politicizing the judiciary. This is something that must not happen if we are all to benefit from equal justice under the law. Our system of justice is one thing that absolutely must not be partisan.
“The separation of church and state, Tingelstad argues, is a myth. Justices should rule from the “Word of God” first, and from sources such as the constitution, statute and case law second.”
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Article VI, US Constitution.
Tingelstad is someone incapable of taking an oath of office under the Constitution. NOBODY who wants the Constitution to survive should vote for this theocrat. His kind mark the beginning of the end of rule of law, and have no place whatsoever in the American system of Justice.
Certainly, someone with such disdain for secular law does not belong on the State Supreme Court!
- In Iowa, judicial races turn into big money, big stakes affairs (cnn.com)
- Voters Moving to Oust Judges Over Decisions (nytimes.com)
- Judicial retention an election day focal point (thegazette.com)
- Race Stirs Worries Over Judges’ Role (online.wsj.com)
- On the Mystery of Religious Establishment (dakotavoice.com)
- CO-Sen: Buck rejects the concept of a separation of Church and State (dailykos.com)
- My Ballot for Next Tuesday: Page Two [Greg Laden’s Blog] (scienceblogs.com)