The New Politics of Judicial Elections - 2006

Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher: Justice at Stake Campaign

Author(s): Rachel Weiss; Lauren Jones; James Sample

Research Area: Justice; Politics

Keywords: Judicial Advertising; State Judicial Elections; Fair Courts

Type: Report


Special interest pressure is metastasizing into a permanent national campaign against impartial justice: High court elections featured broadcast television advertisements in more than 91 percent of states with contested campaigns, median candidate fundraising hit an all-time high, special interests began to pour money into lower court campaigns, and pushy questionnaires sought to make judges accountable to special interests instead of the law and the Constitution. More states are considering reforms to insulate their courts from special-interest excesses by reforming their judicial elections or advancing proposals to scrap them entirely. Many of America’s judges used the 2006 campaigns to stand up to special interest bullying tactics. Civic and legal organizations are stepping up their efforts to educate Americans about the threat to impartial justice. And when Americans understand the threat, they want to protect the courts that protect their rights: A series of ballot measures that sought to politicize the courts all met defeat at the hands of voters.