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TX Judge Switches Parties With Eloquent Statement

Judge Carlo Key, presiding judge of the Bexar, Texas County Criminal Court, ran for his position as a Republican, but he is now switching parties. He put up a Youtube video explaining why he was doing so and it’s quite eloquent and on the mark.

I can no longer be a member of the Republican Party. For too long, the Republican Party has been at war with itself. Rational Republican beliefs have given way to ideological character assassinations. Pragmatism and principal have been overtaken by pettiness and bigotry. Make no mistake: I have not left the Republican Party. It left me. I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their economic status. I will not be a member of a Party in which hate speech elevates candidates for higher office rather than disqualifying them. I cannot place my name on the ballot for a political party that is proud to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal workers over the vain attempt to repeal a law that would provide health care to millions of people throughout our country.

Here’s the video:

Comments

  1. Doug Little says

    Do you think that the Republican party will take note of this critique? Not a fucking chance.

  2. eric says

    His position is in San Antonio and comes up for reelection in 2014. I have mixed thoughts. On one hand, this sort of public statement is extremely valuable (as well as principled and courageous). On the other, I think i’d prefer a quiet sane judge on the bench than a loud sane judge off it.

  3. intergalacticmedium says

    Being from the UK the idea of Judges being explicitly political is very weird, seems like a strong statement that they are not going for impartial interpretation of the law.

  4. maddog1129 says

    Not all states have judges identified by party on ballots. In California, the positions are non-partisan and no party affiliation is stated.

  5. says

    Being from the UK the idea of Judges being explicitly political is very weird, seems like a strong statement that they are not going for impartial interpretation of the law.

    What laws, specifically, do you think Judge Carlo Key would have trouble being impartial about?

  6. freemage says

    intergalacticmedium: It’s kind of all over the place, just as it is with anything decided at the state level. Some use elections, others appointments, and some even used mixed systems.

  7. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    It looks rather as if Judge Key thinks that his former fellow-Republicans would not be impartial about laws concerning sexual orientation, the colour of peoples’ skin or their economic status.
    Of course, he could always follow the example of the great Sir Boyle Roche, who announced he would “judge a case fairly, without being partial on the one hand or impartial on the other”.

  8. Trebuchet says

    The alternative to electing judges is appointing them. The appointing is done, of course, by politicians who get elected to office. That’s how we got idiots like Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito on the Supreme Court.

    In this state, judicial elections are non-partisan. I’m not sure but what making them affiliate with a party would be better. At least it gives you a hint what they’re thinking.

  9. John Pieret says

    The alternative to electing judges is appointing them. The appointing is done, of course, by politicians who get elected to office.

    In point of fact, that is usually what happens, as a practical matter, even when we elect judges. The local party officials decide, most of the time, who gets nominated as a judge and the elections are so low profile, most of the time, that who ever is on the locally dominant party line wins. Sometimes the party bosses wil barter for a number of judges by cross-endorsing some percentage of nominees from each party.

  10. eric says

    It looks rather as if Judge Key thinks that his former fellow-Republicans would not be impartial about laws concerning sexual orientation, the colour of peoples’ skin or their economic status.

    I haven’t watched the video, but from Ed’s excerpt I don’t get the sense that Key is saying GOP judges aren’t impartial about certain subjects. The excerpt is obviously focused on standard legislative branch election issues, not judicial stuff. It has (IMO) very little to do with personally accusing individual GOP judges of legal partiality.

    @4 – as Trebuchet alludes to, the American position on judges (and election officials, who are also typically affiliated with political parties!) tends to be a lot more cynical than the european or parliamentary one. We tend to assume they’re all going to have a political position. So, whether you’re appointing them or electing them, its better to know what that position is than to pretend they don’t have one.

  11. D. C. Sessions says

    Do you think that the Republican party will take note of this critique?

    Dead sure of it. They’re going to run someone against him next year.

  12. Wylann says

    IIRC, in Az, judges are appointed, but every ballot has a ‘should Judge XXX retain, or be removed from, their seat.’, or something to that effect. So voters can kick them out, but not appoint them.

  13. Nick Gotts says

    The alternative to electing judges is appointing them. The appointing is done, of course, by politicians who get elected to office. – Trebuchet

    Not necessarily it isn’t. In England and Wales, since 2005, judges are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission. This consists of a specified number of members of lawyers and lay members, themselves formally appointed by the Lord Chancellor, who is a political appointee (but must be legally qualified), on the recommendation of the Judges’ Council, which contains both the holders of various senior judicial offices as ex officio members, and members elected (I think) by fellow-judges. The practical effect is that the senior judiciary is largely a self-perpetuating oligarchy. This may be considered better or worse than popular election, or direct political appointment, but it is certainly different from either.

  14. Nick Gotts says

    Further to #16: Myself, I’d favour either the Judicial Appointments Commission itself, or a body that appoints its members, being selected by lot from among a range of constituencies – judges, other lawyers, and members of the lay public who have passed a rigorous written examination in knowledge of the legal system. This would avoid the pitfalls of both popular election and political appointment, while diluting the degree of self-perpetuating oligarchy involved.

  15. magistramarla says

    I loved the fact that he mentioned that his values are informed by “mi familia”.
    I think that this was a loud and clear message to the many Hispanic voters in San Antonio that the republican party no longer represents their values in his opinion.
    I’m hoping that this encourages more Hispanics to register and vote for Democrats in Texas.

  16. dingojack says

    Trebuchet – “The alternative to electing judges is appointing them. The appointing is done, of course, by politicians who get elected to office.”

    Oh come now! Surely you know*, that civil servants appoint people, politicians simply rubber-stamp their decisions. [/Humphrey Appleby]

    :D Dingo
    ———–
    * I do, an don’t call m ‘Shirley’!

  17. says

    IIRC, in Az, judges are appointed, but every ballot has a ‘should Judge XXX retain, or be removed from, their seat.’, or something to that effect. So voters can kick them out, but not appoint them.

    This is the system we have in Colorado. One wrinkle is that there is some sort of special commission, consisting of legal scholars or something, that issues recommendations about whether to retain each judge. As far as I’ve been able to see, the commission has never recommended that a judge not be retained. And I don’t think that one has ever been kicked out either.

    I for one always vote to retain because I think it’s a silly system and judges should not have to fear the wrath of the voters when rendering decisions. But in extreme cases, it does give voters the ability to remove judges. Something tells me that those extreme cases would be exactly the sort where public opinion and the truth didn’t align quite right, and that you probably wouldn’t want this kind of recourse anyway. But there it is.

  18. Ichthyic says

    It took him this long to realize it? Where the hell has he been for the last 33 years?

    trying to become a judge. Not an easy thing to do usually.

    now that he IS one, I’m guessing he feels comfortable enough to finally call it as he sees it.

    not the first person who used the republican party to launch their careers, then abandon it afterwards.

  19. The Beautiful Void says

    It took him this long to realize it? Where the hell has he been for the last 33 years?

    He was okay with it for the last 33 years because he’s not gay or black or a woman. He’s only now realising that it can hurt him personally, and that’s what makes it no longer okay.

    Mr Key is still a Republican, he says, and I’m inclined to agree with him. He’s not trying to improve society, he’s just trying to improve his own position within it. He was absolutely fine with the party harming other people, but when it starts to harm him, forget about it, that’s different.

    Just because a rat is jumping off a sinking ship doesn’t make it not a rat.

  20. says

    “Just because a rat is jumping off a sinking ship doesn’t make it not a rat.”

    I don’t know enough about the judge to say whether I think he’s a rat.

    Your comment does make me think, though, that enough rats jump off the ship of the GOP, it might just right itself. But it would then be a “Ghost Ship”, sans captain and crew.

  21. steve84 says

    You know that electing judges is an extremely stupid idea when you realize that only two countries do it: the US and Japan. And the latter had it imposed on by the former.

  22. D. C. Sessions says

    Q: How do you tell smart rats from stupid rats?

    A: The smart rats leave before the ship sinks.

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