Opinion Columns & Blogs

Faith leaders: Justice demands fair and impartial courts

Justice administered by fair and impartial courts is a hot button issue on the November ballot as our Kansas judges and justices stand for voter retention. Some special interest groups are urging voters to vote not to retain judges based upon the decisions they have entered in specific high profile cases

The Bible speaks clearly about the demands of justice. Justice demands fair and impartial courts with highly trained, independent judges.

“Justice, justice shall you pursue,” the Bible commands us in Deuteronomy 16:20. But what is justice? Fortunately, the Bible gives us more detail.

In Exodus 23:2-3, judges are commanded to be impartial before both rich and poor, while avoiding following public opinion even when that opinion represents the majority.

Deuteronomy 16:18 says, “You shall not judge unfairly; you shall show no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just.” The clear and unwavering biblical standard demanded by God is absolute honesty and intensive scrutiny while being impartial. Only the facts of each case matter, regardless of public opinion or prevailing sentiment. Thus, judges must be highly impartial, demandingly discerning and overwhelmingly independent.

For the United States to be the elect of God, to be exceptional, we must act by the exacting biblical standards of justice. We the people must insist upon fair, impartial and independent judges who possess excellent education and are unswerving in their devotion to absolute justice for both the accused and the victim alike, for that is what God clearly demands.

Special interest groups have gotten involved in this year’s judicial retention elections for no other purpose than to elect judges to the bench who will vote their way, and to remove judges who have entered decisions that these groups view to be inconsistent with their interests. This is the antithesis of what we know about the teachings of God on the topic of true justice.

The end game for these groups is not fair and impartial judges or justice. They seek judges who will agree with their particular political agenda.

Be careful this election season. Make an informed choice on whether to retain judges on the ballot. Make a decision based on the judges’ intellect, demeanor and the ability to put aside personal beliefs and render a decision based on the rule of law, not emotion and majority opinion and political interests.

Richard B. Wilke of Winfield is a retired bishop with the United Methodist Church. Tobias Schlingensiepen is senior minister of First Congregational Church in Topeka. Mark H. Levin is founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park.