Barbara Webb, a former circuit judge and current chief law judge for the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission has announced her candidacy for the Arkansas Supreme Court, according to Talk Business & Politics.
Webb is the wife of Arkansas Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb.
Unlike the Supreme Court of the United States, where justices are nominated by the president, Supreme Court justices in Arkansas are elected in a general election.
In a statement given to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Webb said: “I am delighted to introduce myself to the voters of our state. My experience and judicial temperament have prepared me for this opportunity. I will be a fair and independent voice on the Arkansas Supreme Court.”
Webb’s record indeed provides plenty of rationale for her candidacy. She has significant experience in the legal profession and has previously served a term as a special justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Despite this, she is up against another circuit judge, Morgan “Chip” Welch, who announced his candidacy before Webb.
With the race set between the two candidates, it raises some questions about the manner in which judicial elections are conducted.
It needs to be remembered that judicial positions are supposed to be nonpartisan. This isn’t a congressional election, with battles drawn along stark political lines.
The general election system means that judicial candidates, one way or another, have little choice but to be political. Furthermore, there is a lot of special interest money that pours into these elections.
Super PACs have funneled millions of dollars into campaigns for statewide offices.
Whether it is the Supreme Court of the United States or its the Supreme Court of Arkansas, the judiciary is beholden to the Constitution and nothing else. That needs to be constantly checked, especially with vast sums of money flying around.
Judges need to apply the Constitution strictly, and when judges are put in place as a result of funding from wealthy and powerful people, the problems that can potentially arise are innumerable.