Center for American Progress

Corporate Campaign Money Is Eroding the Impartiality of the Judiciary
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Corporate Campaign Money Is Eroding the Impartiality of the Judiciary

A new CAP compilation includes recent reports that illustrate the corrupting influence of corporate money on the judiciary and provide policy recommendations that can help to correct the problem.

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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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