Chair Karamatsu, Vice Chair Ito, members of the House Committee on Judiciary,
The League of Women Voters strongly supports HB 290 which would provide for a separate budget for the appropriation of funds for the Judicial Selection Commission.
For our citizens to have faith in the integrity of our Judiciary, it is important that we believe in the integrity of the body which is given the power and the responsibility to evaluate the backgrounds and qualifications of those who apply for appointment as judges or justices.
The real and perceived independence of the commission, free of political influences, dedicated to the task of finding the most qualified applicants, will instill in the public, respect for the courts and confidence that their rulings are fair and based on the facts of each case and the laws of our land.
Just as important is the confidence on the part of potential and current applicants for judgeships or for seats on the Supreme Court that they will be evaluated fairly and that “office politics” or political pressures will not play any role in who gets recommended and who will not, or who will be retained for a second term and who will not.
The ability to plan for the commission's needs and strategies to fulfill its responsibilities in a manner that instills confidence in its impartial and professional decision-making would be furthered by giving the body the ability to budget for its needs and be appropriated the funds after scrutiny by the legislative body and the Governor, of course.
Our position is not meant to imply that the Judiciary or any other body in any way has presently interfered with the Commission 's ability to work independently: we have no such knowledge. However, the potential for such interference remains when another body has the power to shape the commission's operating budget.
We urge the passage of HB 290.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify on HB 290.