#MeToo Too Far: Reflections on a Judge’s Recall in California

 (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

A week after residents of Santa Clara County in Northern California voted, by a lopsided 60–40 margin, to toss out Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky for his lenient sentence in the Brock Turner sexual assault case, disquieting concerns linger about the implications of the recall vote.

Occurring amid a long overdue national conversation about sexual assault and harassment spurred by the wider #MeToo movement, the decisive margin of the rare recall—the first in California since 1932—was striking but not surprising. But, unfortunately, for many sitting judges in California and in the handful of other states that permit such recalls, there is also another message playing loudly now, one more chilling than uplifting: Unpopular rulings, including hard sentencing decisions, can cost you your job.

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