SuperPAC Money Infecting Judicial Races

 

The amount of money pouring into state and national elections via SuperPACs is not simply limited to congressional or presidential races. These groups are also funneling unprecedented amounts of dark money into judicial races as well, and the impact the campaign cash has on the nation’s judicial system is not good.

For starters, judicial races have rarely operated like traditional campaigns. Judges rarely, if at all, actively campaign let alone solicit for donations.

But, thanks to a wave of activism directing at riding the benches of judges seen as “activist” by the hard-right, state judges no longer have a choice. Two years ago in Iowa three state Supreme Court justices who upheld a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage lost their judgeships after national conservatives launched a toxic million-dollar campaign funded by money from outside the sate. Similar campaigns were launched in Alaska, Colorado and Illinois.

A 2010 study by the watchdog group Justice at Stake examined 29 judicial races and found that the top five spenders averaged $473,000 a piece while all other donors averaged $850. Thanks to the loopholes in disclosure laws, those donors remain anonymous while the money spent remained largely unaccounted.

One election law expert likened these developments to “floating auctions” where special interest groups can focus money and manpower in specific states to upend justices they don’t like.

The problem with all of this of course is that it removes, perhaps permanently, the veneer of independence in our judiciary. State court elections, while in many senses political, have now become partisan battles. And while judges are entitled to hold personal political beliefs, good judges understand that a personal political belief is not the same thing as applying the law to the facts of a case and coming to a conclusion based on the law.

With big campaign contributions come big expectations for results from donors which means our judiciary is at risk from being entirely bought and sold by corporate interests unless we get meaningful campaign finance reform and get it soon.

 

Related Stories:

Senate Candidates Shut Off Outside Groups-Could Presidential Candidates Do The Same?

Rally At The SEC Against Secret Money In Politics

California Striking Back Against Citizens United

 

Photo from 401K via flickr.

18 comments

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N.3 years ago

Deborah W. Correction: Is there no one who can stand (OR FALL) on his/her own record?

Lol. Obama can!

Although the tsunami of corporate/Republican lies and electoral cheating might sweep him away, leaving nothing but industrial pollution and grime.

Jane H.
Jane H.3 years ago

Another reason to vote Democrat----judical appointments to the federal bench and Supreme Court, especially.

Lih Y.

PROMOTE FAIRNESS, FREEDOM, JUSTICE, PEACE, HUMANITY, PRODUCTIVITY, WELL-BEING OF GENERAL PUBLIC.
RESOLVE SOCIO- POLITICAL ISSUES, BALANCING BUDGET. OPPOSE SO CALLED "FAIR ELECTION ACT" PUBLIC FINANCE MATCHING SMALL DONORS FUND- DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD, RESOUCES BENEFIT "BAD GUYS" AS USUAL. TASKS: TOP PRIORITIES: Society in vicious cycles as in need of revolution, we MUST act:
(1). Prosecute, eliminate “MURDER- fraud- crime- injustice networks”= cruel tyranny= robbery machine = ROBBER- ISM; destroying essences of democracy, capitalism; continuing, on-going; relaying, penetrating every segment of our lives (inc. civic non- profit organizations); expanding here domestically to overseas- foreign countries; with threat, coercion, victimization, deprivation, discrimination; unjust practices, manipulation, influence; bad legislative bills; unjust hidden agenda with false/ misleading excuses (inc. private- public partnership, economic development, housing, school construction, transportation, abandonment of properties, maintenance of “paper roads”, nonsense grants, programs; …, whatever) to benefit/ facilitate “MURDER-fraud- crime- injustice networks” (inc. officials, judges, developers, lawyers, employees, etc.); expand further unjust operation; endless unlawful- immoral acts; rob/destruct resources (rights, land, properties, home, buildings, assets, accounts, income, pension, documents, evidences; public, private; business, civic, political)

Ira L.
Ira & Ellie L.4 years ago

If Romney wins, super pacs will grow even bigger and corporate monetary corruption will run rampant.
If President Obama is reelected, he will do away with super pacs and sign laws to replace corporate monetary corruption with campaign finance reform.
Voters choice!

Patrick F.
Patrick f.4 years ago

Don't ya know, bribery is legal now, as long as it is in the millions.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.4 years ago

Correction: Is there no one who can stand (OR FALL) on his/her own record?

Deborah W.
Deborah W.4 years ago

All PACs ... and every other name for the same goal-oriented motives ... have no place in politics. Is there no one left who can stand on his/her own record?

Larry Cormier
Larry Cormier4 years ago

The 1% have been working at this for over 50 yrs. Over the past 2-3 yrs they have begun to play thier hand. We are being bought out right under our noses. If the Tea Partiers think (even if they have a million or two) that they are going to become a part of this crowd when all is done they will be in for a rude awakening.

Dewey Fish
Past Member 4 years ago

No Wonder Ben Franklyn Looks So Dismayed On the Face of the $100 Bill!

J.L. A.
JL A.4 years ago

The buying of the judiciary? Oh the corruption potential!