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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: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
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Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Elise Shulman (oceans)
202.796.9705 or

Print: Benton Strong (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.481.8142 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or


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

For more from the same column, click here