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Case could affect ND Judge elections

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – A Minnesota case now before the U-S Supreme Court could have an effect on judicial races in North Dakota.

The High Court is considering whether a Minnesota state law that prohibits judicial candidates from expressing views on many subjects is constitutional. A defeated candidate says he was barred from telling voters how he would be tough on crime.

North Dakota's Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from talking about pending cases or pending issues. And North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Vandewalle says he thinks that's good for this state's judiciary.

"From the standpoint of public trust and confidence, it's very difficult for someone to have confidence in a judge who has announced a position generally, and they have a case before that judge in which their interests are on the other side of what the judge has publicly announced that he or she would do."

Vandewalle says there's also a concern about judges pandering to popular opinion.

Vandewalle says there is one part of the Minnesota law that the U-S Supreme Court is not taking up -- and that is the issue of "partisan endorsements" for judgeships. Vandewalle says in North Dakota, the parties have not given support to judges or justices.