John Paul Stevens called it right. Dissenting in 2010 from the Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United ruling to overturn limits on big spending in campaigns, the now-retired Supreme Court justice warned that the decision’s toxic implications would extend beyond ordinary political contests to the elections that fill powerful state supreme court seats.
Discomfiting figures from the latest round of state judicial races bear out that grim forecast. Of the 39 states that hold judicial elections, 27 feature supreme court races this November, and the money is flowing freely.
The same seamy money game that defines races for political office post-Citizens United—unlimited spending by special interests and barrels of secret money—has also invaded contests for the courthouse. It is an alarming development. And it is getting steadily worse.