The first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court says there's a serious problem with the government in Washington and many other states: They elect their judges.

The first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court says there’s a serious problem with the government in Washington and many other states: They elect their judges.

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke Monday at a Seattle University Law School conference. She told a sold-out audience that threats to judicial independence are rising exponentially as more and more money pours into judicial races around the country.

O’Connor advocates a system by which nonpartisan commissions select judges based on their merit. At the end of a judge’s term voters could decide whether to retain them.

Washington state Chief Justice Gerry Alexander served on a panel with O’Connor at the conference. He said that even though he was almost defeated in an expensive election in 2006, he says he supports the current system because such elections are a tradition here.

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