Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No to Popularity Contest

The Attorney General's position should not end up being a popularity contest, and that is what will happen if we make it an elected position. The standard for justice should not be what the public sentiment is at the time, which direction the political wind is blowing or if a case will help the AG hold office or further his or her career. Having the AG come under the administration is not perfect but it is far better than the circus show we will see once we put the position up for a popular vote.

A good example of this is the Duke University lacrosse case where the North Carolina's Durham County District AG, Mike Nifong, prosecuted three members of the lacrosse team accused of rape and withheld evidence proving their innocence. He has been disbarred for "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation".

Thomas Sowell writes the following in National Review Online,

"Now Nifong faced a tough election against a woman he had once fired and who would undoubtedly fire him if she became district attorney."

"Where would that leave Nifong? Out on the street at an age when most people are not likely to be starting a new career. His pension as well as his job could be in jeopardy. Moreover, his opponent was favored to win the election."

"Then along came the Duke University "rape" case, like a deliverance from heaven."

"Politically, the case had everything: White jocks from affluent families at a rich and prestigious university versus a black woman who was a student at a far poorer and less distinguished black institution nearby."

"Above all, there were black voters who could swing the election Nifong's way if he played the race card and conjured up all the racial injustices of the past, which he would now vow to fight against in the present."

And there we have it: a circus show instead of justice.

Some people see democracy as some golden standard by which to judge everything. Instead, democracy is a tool for the people to run the state not to administer justice.

American Samoa's AG is responsible to the governor, and the governor is responsible to the popular vote. So is the House of Representatives who, along with the Senate, can summon the AG to testify on a pertinent issue. If the AG does something that attracts the ire of the people, believe me, he or she is going to get fired, elected or not.

Is that not enough? Is the system so broken that the Fono has to fix it? Their solution will come with its own problems, which would more likely be worse.


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