Publication Date: May 2007
Publisher: Joyce Foundation
Research Area: Politics
Keywords: elections; campaign contributions
Coverage: United States
According to this report, special interest pressure is growing and threatening the fairness and impartiality of America’s courts. The study’s collaborators also included the Justice at Stake Campaign and the National Institute for Money in State Politics. The report also cites a survey conducted by Zogby International for the Committee for Economic Development showing that four out of five business leaders worry that campaign contributions have a major influence on decisions rendered by judges.
The study found that television advertising has become a major weapon for groups battling over state high courts—average television spending hit a record $1.6 million per state—with pro-business groups accounting for 90 percent of all independent spending on TV ads in high court races. State Supreme Court elections attracted record sums from business interests, a reflection of the importance of state courts in setting corporate damage payments. Campaign finance analysis shows that business gave $2 for every $1 donated by lawyers directly to candidates.