COLUMBUS, Ga – How well do you know your ballot? A group of bipartisan attorneys who disagree over many things political have united over one thing: If you’re a Georgia voter, they want to be sure you do not vote for Amendment 3.
How rare– in any election year– but especially the contentious season that is Decision 2016– to see Republicans and Democrats come together for a common cause. But some in the Georgia legal community are doing just that– in a last minute campaign to get voters to just say “no” to Amendment 3.
“What this amendment does is it abolishes the independent commission and turns judicial ethics over the politicians at the state legislature,” says attorney Lester Tate who is campaigning against Amendment 3.
“A yes vote is going to be moving us to a legislative lap dog. A no vote maintains that strong judicial watchdog,” says Senator Josh McKoon, (R-Ga) District 29, who is also campaigning against Amendment 3.
Amendment 3 would shake up the way Georgia judges are held accountable. Right now, the Judicial Qualification Commission, a group of independent board members comprised of legal experts, reviews cases of alleged misconduct against judges. This is how the system has operated for the past 44 years.
They then vote if the judge should be removed from the bench.
But if voters say “yes” to Amendment 3, legislators, not judges, would become the new police of Georgia judicial system.
“What Amendment 3 does is make it where politicians and power brokers are the ones who are overseeing judicial ethics, instead of an independent commission, that has worked well for over 44 years,” says Tate.
“This the law, forever, going forward, if we vote yes. So, long after the current Lieutenant Governor, Governor, the current Speaker are all gone, we’ll still be moved to this other system. And so, it’s not about personalities. It’s about policies. And this is the wrong policy for Georgia,” says Senator McKoon.
Supporters of Amendment 3 say that the Judicial Qualification Commission needs more oversight. They say this can be better accomplished by having members appointed by legislators.