Most years, I confess, I go into the voting booth entirely unprepared to decide between candidates for seats on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Under the Minnesota state constitution, justices are chosen by voters, unless a vacancy occurs between general elections, in which case a provisional appointment is made by the governor. This year, Minnesota voters will be asked to fill two seats on the Supreme Court, and again the names on the ballot will be unfamiliar to most people.
The first race pits incumbent Paul Anderson against challenger Tim Tingelstad. Tingelstad's campaign website reveals him to be an extreme fundamentalist Christian who argues against the separation of church and state, claiming that "the Church must return to its vital role of supporting and influencing the state." This, for example, is what Tingelstad says about Christianity and the public schools:
The Word of God was originally the cornerstone of this Nation’s public education system. The Bible is not an unconstitutional book. Instead, God’s Word is the only solid basis upon which to teach morality. When we removed the Bible from the public education of our children, we did not remove religion, we merely replaced the religious belief in the living God with a religious belief in the god of materialism and chance.Tingelstad clearly believes that the Bible, not evolution, should be taught in public schools, and would undoubtedly bring that belief to the judicial bench. He says: "God's Word is the Light of Truth. As God's Word has been removed from our public lives, the resulting darkness has led to our present social disorder and political divisions. The correction of these problems will only begin when the Light of Truth is returned to our land's highest hills, the Supreme Courts."
This man should be kept at a safe distance from public office.
The other Supreme Court race is between incumbent Lorie Skjerven Gildea and challenger Deborah Hedlund. The Twin Cities chapter of the League of Young Voters originally endorsed Hedlund as a reaction against the conservative Pawlenty-appointee Gildea—then retracted their endorsement when they discovered that Hedlund was "a rabid right-wing Christian homophobe."
There are important issues, and occasionally some unpleasant surprises, lurking at the bottom of the ballot. It's best to come prepared.