Why our legal system must remain impartial and judges must be unbiased

Seth Gladstein and H. Phillip Grossman

Imagine this scenario:

It’s December 2022. People around the commonwealth are gearing up and making plans to watch the greatest annual rivalry in college basketball – the University of Kentucky Wildcats versus the University of Louisville Cardinals. This day, however, is unlike any other day leading up to the annual UK-U of L game. Today, the officiating team comprised of three referees calls a press conference, during which they all disclose their unwavering support for only one of the two universities.

What confidence would you have in the integrity of the game as a player or fan of the other team? “The whole game is slanted against us,” you might think. “The system’s rigged!” You may even assume your team has lost even before the game has started. Every fan should be asking the most basic question: “Aren’t referees supposed to be unbiased and fair?” The answer to that question is unequivocally yes.

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Why our legal system must remain impartial and judges must be unbiased

Kentucky is one of 13 states where the public elects judges in nonpartisan elections. That means our judicial candidates do not affiliate with political parties or outwardly commit to support specific policy positions they may have to rule on later. That’s why you don’t generally see judicial candidates talking in the media or plastered on billboards extolling how they’re “tough on crime” or taking sides on hot button social issues. Stated differently, Kentucky judicial candidates run on the premise that they will apply the law fairly and equitably based upon the law and their experience – not on their personal beliefs.