June 28, 2005

New Report on Judicial Elections

Justice at Stake has issued this report. Here is the summary on the group's website:

    A perfect storm of hardball TV ads, millions in campaign contributions and bare-knuckled special interest politics is descending on a rapidly growing number of Supreme Court campaigns, according to a major new report from Justice at Stake and its partners, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the Institute for Money in State Politics.

    Amid growing speculation over a near-term vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, and with interest groups posturing for a confirmation battle involving millions of dollars in television advertising and grassroots battles, this new report shows that many Americans are already seeing high-stakes court battles in their own backyards.

    "After the 2000 elections, we sounded the alarm: no state that elects its judges is safe from the corrosive effects of big money, nasty TV ads, and special interest arm-twisting," said Bert Brandenburg, executive director of the Justice at Stake Campaign. "If 2000 was a turning point, then 2004 was the tipping point, when the threat spread across the country. The fairness and impartiality of the courts that protect our rights is in jeopardy."

    The report is being released three years to the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White that certain speech limitations on judicial candidates were unconstitutional. At the time, many observers predicted this would make state court races even more political and put interest groups in the driverís seat, at the expense of fair and impartial courts. The data released today underscores how quickly interest groups have moved to politicize judicial elections across America. Download our national news release for a summary of the reportís major findings and comments from its authors.

Posted by Rick Hasen at June 28, 2005 06:41 AM