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Federal suit challenges political affiliation law for judges

Delaware Public Media

A new federal lawsuit is challenging a Delaware law requiring equal political representation among the state’s judiciary. It claims that law leaves out those aligned with third parties.

James Adams, a Democrat-turned-Independent and retired state prosecutor, says the state’s constitutional mandate that the court bench be politically balanced violates the First Amendment.


In Delaware, governors appoint judges based on recommendations from a commission – which is nearly entirely made up of people chosen by the governor.


Half of judges across the different levels of the judiciary must be made up of one “majority party.” The other majority party claims the other half.  And the term “majority party” is left undefined.


At different times in his career, Adams says he’s wanted to apply for a judgeship, but wasn’t a member of the required political party that’s advertised on public notices.


Gov. John Carney’s (D) office, which is named as the defendent in the suit, didn’t return a request for comment.