The Utah House this week approved a bill to remove the power of an executive branch agency to set evaluation criteria for the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), discussed here. The Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) sets evaluation criteria for the JNC and had at one point included diversity as one criteria.
HB 93 was filed with an eye towards prohibiting the Commission from factoring in diversity in considering nominees for judgeships. Opponents claimed “diversity considerations take us away from choosing judges on the basis of merit” and that the consideration of race or gender was illegal. Opponents argued that the state’s judges did not reflect the diversity of the state’s population.
UPDATE: An amendment to the bill added on the floor specifies exactly what evaluation criteria are allowed to be used, and diversity is absent. What is included:
- legal knowledge and ability
- judicial temperament
- professional experience
- work ethic
- financial responsibility
- public service
- ability to perform the work of a judge
HB 93 is now in the Senate Rules Committee.