Another threat coming next year:
The partisan, ideological wars over President Bush's nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court might have an echo here next year in elections for Washington state's highest courts.
For the first time in this state, a political action committee has been formed to help elect candidates to the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The Constitutional Law PAC has a right-of-center orientation.
The development alarms some court observers, who say an agenda-driven PAC for judicial elections could threaten the independence and impartiality of the state's judiciary, and that the emergence of one will lead to other, countervailing PACs.
Alex Hays, executive director of the new committee, said it is centrist. But its board is heavily sprinkled with well-known Republicans and ties to the state's politically aggressive home builders' lobby and other conservative organizations. It is promoting two potential, solidly conservative candidates for the Supreme Court in 2006.
Obviously, it's time for limits on contributions to judicial races. There was a bill introduced that would have imposed limits in the last legislative session, but it didn't pass. This time, that bill needs to be one of our highest priorities.