Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein, running for re-election, received a great endorsement from the Marietta Daily Journal. Hunstein's opponent, Mike Wiggins, has introduced partisanship in this nonpartisan race. He also packs a financial wallop thanks to business entitities who have ,all of the sudden, decided to take an interest in Georgia judicial races.
But Democrats and Republicans alike have realized what we have in Justice Hunstein. Which explains why she enjoys a wide array of support from former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes to one of his archrivals, former Republican Attorney General Mike Bowers.
The MDJ's endorsement was strong as indicated by these passages of their editorial:
Justice Hunstein believes in deciding a case based on its merits, not based on a predetermined philosophy. And that is what she has done in the course of the hundreds of cases she has authored as a Supreme Court justice.
Moreover, Ms. Hunstein has been a true friend of the First Amendment and, as evidenced by her votes in a series of cases, one of the strongest defenders of open and transparent government who has ever sat on the state's Supreme Court. And there's little indication that would be true of her opponent, Wiggins, if he were to be elected.
We suspect that Justice Hunstein will soon be the target of a wave of attack ads on local TV and radio, courtesy of the Wiggins campaign and his wealthy out-of-state backers. Not only is such a campaign apt to leave Wiggins beholden to his backers and their interests, it also is guaranteed to reduce the respect with which the public now views the court.
Undermining the intent and integrity of our court system by making it possible for special interest groups to buy judgeships, or try to buy them, is an affront to our state and to the integrity of our judicial system. Modern-era Georgia has been known for its judicial independence and impartiality, and we don't think Georgians are ready to start turning back the clock.
The best way to prevent that in the long run is by changing the law or enacting stronger ethics standards regarding judicial elections. And the best way in the short run for the public to reinforce the integrity of the Georgia Supreme Court is by re-electing Justice Carol W. Hunstein.
UPDATE: The Savannah Morning News is now endorsing Justice Hunstein. Mostly for the same reasons that the Marietta Daily Journal did.
The justices who do this reviewing must know the law and apply it impartially, so that the powerful and the powerless enjoy an even playing field. They must be vigorous defenders of openness in the halls of government and in courtrooms, which keeps democracy healthy. They must possess a strong work ethic and have the courage of their convictions.
Justice Carol Hunstein passes this test.
She has earned high marks for her grading ability during her 14 years on the high court. We encourage Georgians to keep her on the bench when they go to the polls Nov. 7.