“How Republicans flipped America’s state supreme courts”

USA Today has this fascinating deep dive into state high courts, by Aaron Mendelson of Center for Public Integrity. Here’s a taste:

In less than a decade, Republican politicians in eight states have transformed their state supreme courts — altering the process by which justices reach the bench, or the size of the court. The moves have pushed the courts to the right or solidified conservative control.

The changes take different forms. North Carolina and Ohio made their judicial elections partisan contests. Arizona and Georgia expanded the number of justices. And Iowa, Idaho, Montana and Utah granted Republican governors greater control over the process of picking justices….

[W]hile individual rulings have attracted public scrutiny, the changes to the courts have flown under the radar. That’s despite the key role that state courts, which hear 95% of all cases in the U.S., play in American democracy.

“It’s hard to flip a whole state legislature. It’s really expensive to win a governor’s race. But it’s not as hard, frankly, to turn over a state supreme court,” said Michael Kang of Northwestern University.

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