A National Partnership Working for Fair and Impartial Courts
Contact Us Home January 20, 2018
"Across the country, state courts are drowning in a sea of special-interest campaign money."
New York Times editorial
 

Campaign Disclosure Laws

National Institute on Money in State Politics"Information on who is spending unlimited funds to influence state-level campaigns is virtually a secret in the vast majority of states."

"Indecent Disclosure," 2007 report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics

Special interest money poses a unique threat to courts, which have a constitutional obligation to be fair and impartial. Where competitive judicial elections are held, a key reform is the timely public disclosure of all campaign spending.  

Disclosure laws for  "third-party" ad campaigns are especially crucial. So-called "independent" campaigns have poured millions into judicial campaigns, often outspending the official candidates.

Caperton v. Massey illustrates the value of disclosure laws. Coal executive Don Blankenship spent $3 million to elect a West Virginia justice in 2004, while a lawsuit involving the executive’s company was pending. Under a disclosure law in effect at the time, Blankenship had to register his third-party campaign with the state.

Blankenship's  "extreme" political spending might have gone undetected without a strong disclosure law. And a historic Supreme Court ruling protecting fair and impartial courts might never have occurred.

When the Supreme Court decided Citizens United in 2010, the justices ruled 8-1 that all groups that spend to influence elections can be forced to disclose their financial sources. In a new era of runaway election spending, the ruling gave clear guidance to state and federal lawmakers that they can pass disclosure laws.

 

Campaign Disclosure Resources

 

 
 
 
The positions and policies of Justice at Stake publications and campaign partners are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of other campaign partners or board members.
Website Design in Iowa by Global Reach