Feb 23 2009
We know that many, many people are concerned about the influence of campaign contributions on judicial decision-making. But is there really a link or is it all just a question of perception? The National Law Journal is reporting on a new study about the link between campaign contributions and decisions in the courtroom: “Is justice for sale? There is a strong relationship between campaign contributions and decisions by state Supreme Court judges in states that elect those judges, a recent study finds.” The study found the link to be strong in states that elect judges in partisan contests.
The study by political scientists Chris Bonneau of the University of Pittsburgh and Damon Cann of Utah State University looked at three states — Nevada, Texas and Michigan. Michigan and Texas use partisan elections to select judges, and Nevada uses nonpartisan elections. The influence of campaign contributions on decision-making — when other factors such as ideology were controlled for — was stronger in the partisan election states.
This is important information for Pennsylvanians to hear as we enter judicial election season. Remember, we’re one of those states that uses partisan elections. Isn’t it time to get judges out of the fundraising business?Tags: Chris Bonneau of the University of Pittsburgh, Damon Cann of Utah State University, judicial elections, Michigan, National Law Journal, Nevada, Texas