“I believe that justice is served when judges fear God” – that’s the campaign theme of the man who won eleven Minnesota counties in the recent primary election.
As previously mentioned, the Reshaping of the Minnesota Supreme Court started with determining the two finalists and essentially there were two main statewide contests.
Recapping, a Pawlenty-appointed incumbent, Associate Justice David Stras, was being challenged by Tim Tingelstad and Alan Nelson. Mr. Tingelstad advocates for inserting the “Word of God” into judicial decisions — man’s law through legislative action and the Constitution are not as only “God is the only source of Absolute Truth.” Mr. Tingelstad is quoted as saying “It is not unconstitutional to bring the Word of God back into public education.”
With over 280,000 voters participating, the Primary Election determined that Justice Stras will have Tim Tingelstad as his challenger.
Mr. Tingelstad “Fear God” campaign resulted in wins in eleven counties :
Anoka with 47% of the vote
Becker with 52%
Beltrami with 45%
Clearwater with 58%
Hubbard with 44%
Pennington with 43%
Roseau with 44%
Sherburne with 43%
Todd with 38%
Wright with 40%
Not only did Mr. Tingelstad win these counties but in Clearwater County, he was the top vote getter of all candidates on the ballet … and of the ones that he won, he was no worse than the fourth highest overall vote getter. In Anoka County, Mr. Tingelstad received 6,580 votes which is more than Michelle Bachmann’s tally of 5,014 votes … clearly Mr. Tingelstad has strong supporters as attested by the observation that Mr. Tingelstad is the only candidate that I have seen a lawn sign displayed.
Responding to the question “Why do you want to be an appellate judge?”, candidate Tingelstad writes
“In upcoming years our MN Supreme Court will make decisions that will determine our civil and religious liberty for generations to come.”
Clearly a man with a vision for our future.
Voters will hear a lot of commercials about various legislative contests, but historically, Judicial Elections do not get the publicity … but when one can use the “Fear of God” passed through “Word of God” from voter to voter, Mr. Tingelstad could surprise a lot of people come election night.
In the 2010 election, Mr. Tingelstad receiving 619,701 votes losing to incumbent Justice Alan Page …. a well-known incumbent Justice but Justice David Stras does not have that exposure.
The Tingelstad challenge is not the only one on November’s ballot … Dean Barkley will challenge Justice Barry Anderson. Mr. Barkley offers a different stance than challenger Tingelstad writing :
I would like to bring a common sense, non-ideological approach to the Supreme Court. Cases should be decided on applying the law to the facts of the case. I am worried that Judges are being labeled conservative or liberal. I am neither. Ideology has no place in our
court system. A judge’s main job is to protect our constitutional rights and to make fair and rational decisions based upon legal precedent.
Also, Dan Griffith will challenge Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea. Candidate Griffith responded to the same question of “Why”, writing :
I believe we are in our financial mess because our government is too big and people are too small. Thomas Jefferson said, “In my reading of history all bad government results from too much government;” and “Government governs best that governs least.” If we are going to survive as a nation we need to return to the pillars of reason our country was built upon. Our Constitution prescribes powers and limits to our government. Judges at the Appellate level are tasked with the responsibility of making sure our laws and Constitution are followed.
Three challengers … three different thought processes … three different motivations …
IMO, it’s time to get rid of this direct election of judges who might be motivated by God (or in candidate Griffith’s response that cited Ayn Rand), it’s time to do as many business leaders advocate, constitutionally create a new system of electing judges. The plan would have two components: 1) An independent commission made up of a balanced group of experts who would evaluate judges and issue a public report card, and, 2) A retention election would be conducted, allowing voters to determine whether a judge retains his/her job. A judge would not face a challenger in a retention election.
This would be a better system than one where the system can be affected by political motivation … as has, and is, happening in Iowa. As the Quad City Times editorialized on Monday :
Drive out justices who carefully distinguish between politics and justice, and Iowa will wind up with justices who do not — creating a safe haven for justices comfortable with publicly pronouncing judgments on issues before they reach the court.
The editorial recounts how activists replaced three justices last election and this time report that David Wiggins, like his ousted colleagues, says he won’t actively campaign. Instead, Justice Wiggins will adhere to judicial practice of letting the record speak for itself. “That’s an honorable judicial stance that we highly respect.
It also is a recipe for defeat against a campaign that ignores such ethical considerations.”
Voters need to educate themselves on the choices (and consequences) … this election is not just about legislative contests … it’s also about reshaping the Minnesota Supreme Court.