JUDGES CANNOT BE SELECTED BY LOTTERY- SWITZ COURT

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The Federal Council of the Swiss government on Thursday rejected a proposal to appoint supreme court judges by drawing lots, stating that it would raise questions about the legitimacy of the court.

The judges of the Federal Court, the Federal Criminal Court, and the Federal Administrative Court are members of the parliament and rely on parliamentarians for re-election. The appointment system potentially leaves judges exposed to political pressure. As a result, the independence of judges has often been questioned.

The campaign to bring the change in the system was led by entrepreneur Adrian Gasser last year. The government verified that 130,100 signatures for the “Appointment of federal judges by drawing lots (initiative on justice)” were valid. Gasser  had said “A lottery is more democratic than a political party procedure that excludes a big part of the population. Candidates without party membership cannot be appointed, and women are also under-represented,”

Swiss government officials have criticized the initiative. Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said that important decisions like the appointment of judges should not be left to chance. It was argued that the existing procedure is a transparent one as both houses of the parliament elect judges. He said, “judges do not pass judgments on instruction from parties.” The government additionally said that the proposed lottery system “is based on chance rather than a democratic election and would thus be an outlier in the Swiss legal system.”

The petition was ultimately rejected .