PETER COOK, a British comedian, once portrayed a slow-witted miner musing that he would have become a judge, “but I never ’ad the Latin.” Alas, in America, he might have done better: digging in the dirt for donations and political support sometimes seems more important to becoming a judge than any intellectual skill. Read more at The Economist
Colin Powell, former Secretary of State
Election 2012 News Releases
Americans overwhelmingly rejected big-money attempts to hijack their courts on Election Day. The 2012 campaign saw record spending in state Supreme Court races, with Super PACs and other outside groups spending millions on TV ads and mailers seeking to influence judicial races. At the same time, voters rebuffed a series of costly campaigns seeking to make courts accountable to partisans and special interests, ignoring calls to unseat judges over their decisions, and rejecting referenda in three states designed to give politicians more power over the courts.
An explosion of outside spending in North Carolina’s Supreme Court election threatens to erode public confidence in fair and impartial courts, Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said today.
Florida voters squarely rejected a special-interest assault on fair and impartial courts, Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said today.
“Special interests and partisan politicians waged an unprecedented campaign to unseat three Florida Supreme Court justices for political purposes and to give the legislature new ways to pressure the courts,” Brandenburg said. “But Florida voters stood up for fair and impartial courts that resolve disputes based on the facts and the law, not partisan pressure.”
On Tuesday, Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins won a retention election with approximately 54.5% of the vote after facing an expensive, well-organized campaign to unseat him. Opponents, including special-interest groups and out-of-state politicians, based their ouster campaign on a unanimous 2009 court decision finding it unconstitutional to deny civil marriage to same-sex couples.
Justice at Stake hailed yesterday’s defeat of Amendment 3, which sought to undermine Missouri’s merit-based system for selecting judges.
Television ad spending for state Supreme Court races surpassed $19.5 million this week, with more than $5 million spent in the week between October 24 and October 30, according to data released by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake. As judicial campaigns enter their final days, negative ads are playing an increasingly prominent role.
Between now and Nov. 6, as Utah citizens go to the polls, they will be asked to weigh in on whether to retain 25 judges who will be on ballots around the state. For the first time, detailed evaluation reports on all judges on the ballot are available at www.judges.utah.gov. These evaluations can also be found in the voter information pamphlet. Read more at The Daily Herald
Television ad spending for state Supreme Court races surpassed $13.5 million this week—more than was spent in all of 2010—as the judicial campaign season enters what is traditionally its highest-spending period, according to data released by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake.
Political parties and outside groups have dominated TV spending this election season, and are responsible for nearly 70% of the approximately $8.9 million that has been spent on TV ads since the start of September, according to data provided by TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG.
...But this year Newby's bid for re-election to the N.C. Supreme Court has attracted the support of a super PAC and the attention of the New York Times. And both candidates are the subject of political TV ads that are unprecedented in state history. Read more at the Salisbury Post
Television ad spending for judicial races has already surpassed $7 million this year, with more than $2.6 million spent since September, according to data released by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake. Michigan has seen more than $1.4 million in TV spending since the general election season began and is on track to be the highest-spending state this year.
An ad paid for by a Koch Brothers group highlights a new under-the-radar trend in Election 2012: the use of state supreme court campaigns by outside politicians and interest groups in ways that could drive up conservative turnout in presidential battleground states.
Judicial candidates spent more than $4.6 million in television advertisements this primary season, according to data released by the Brennan Center for Justice and the Justice at Stake Campaign, in an election cycle where changing spending patterns could signal a new phase in the decade-long spending battle to influence America’s state courts.
A West Virginia ruling that limits public financing will force judges to continue "dialing for dollars," JAS Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said in a statement.