Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Carte Goodwin’s Commission Backed ‘Merit Selection’


West Virginia governor Joe Manchin has appointed lawyer Carte Goodwin to replace Sen. Robert Byrd. K-Lo has asked, “Who is Carte Goodwin?” noting that very little is known about him.

In addition to being a former Manchin aide, Goodwin was chair of the West Virginia Independent Commission on Judicial Reform, a commission created by Manchin to make recommendations regarding the state’s judiciary. (If you want a better sense for the political goals of the commission, I would note that the “honorary” chair of the same commission was retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.)

The Commission made a number of recommendations that should concern supporters of the First Amendment and an independent judiciary. For instance, according to its final report on the selection of judges in West Virginia, the commission stated that it was “mindful of the controversy surrounding the debate between the election and appointment of judges” — or, more precisely, the debate between so-called merit selection and elections — but that it was “this controversy that led the Commission to conclude that the Legislature should take advantage of this rare opportunity to explore the efficacy of merit selection.” Their essential conclusions were in keeping with a national campaign to take away the right of citizens to elect members of the judiciary.

As the Wall Street Journal has ably explained on numerous occasions, a coalition of special interest groups primarily funded by George Soros has been engaged in a national campaign to drastically limit political speech in judicial elections, or abolish elections entirely and replace them with “merit” selection. “Merit” selection is the trial bar’s preferred form of judicial selection, and it is no surprise, in light of compelling evidence that it tilts state judiciaries to the left. According to the Journal, Vanderbilt Law Professor Brian Fitzpatrick found that, “Since 1995 in Tennessee, 67% of appellate nominees more often voted in Democratic primaries, compared to 33% who voted more often in Republican primaries.”

JCN will have more to say about judicial selection in the states in the coming months.  For now, suffice it to say that we hope Goodwin was a voice of reason on that issue rather than a pawn for Soros and the trial bar.

Gary Marx is Executive Director of the Judicial Crisis Network


(Simply insert your e-mail and hit “Sign Up.”)

Subscribe to National Review