The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2006


Publication Date: May 2007

Publisher: Joyce Foundation


Research Area: Politics

Keywords: elections; campaign contributions

Type: Report

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.