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Idea of the Day: Corporate Campaign Money Is Eroding the Impartiality of the Judiciary

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The steep rise in campaign contributions for judicial elections has been well documented. Candidates in state supreme court races raised around $211 million from 2000 to 2009—two and a half times more than in the previous decade. But the 2012 elections saw spending records shattered as the unlimited campaign cash unleashed by Citizens United and other federal court cases funded billions of dollars in independent expenditures. A record $29.7 million was spent on television ads in state supreme court races this year, and more than half of this money came in the form of independent expenditures, according to Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice, two groups that track money in judicial elections.

This flood of campaign cash came from corporations, lawyers, and others with a stake in how these courts rule. Even in ostensibly nonpartisan races, political parties spent millions of dollars on candidates for courts currently considering lawsuits over redistricting maps. These perceived conflicts of interest will further erode public confidence in an impartial judiciary, which is already at an alarming low.

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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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