Oct 11 2010
Over at Gavel Grab, Peter Hardin notes the growing trend of expensive judicial elections.
This trend is in part due to an increased expenditure on television ads. Referring to information contained in a news release complied by the Brennan Center for Justice and the Justice at Stake Campaign, Hardin explains that television ads are now being used in six states with upcoming judicial elections. Through October 6, more than $2 million has been spent on air time for judicial elections. Another indicator of this spending trend is that Minnesota has seen increased “partisan politicking.” Minnesota has traditionally been a state that avoided expensive Supreme Court elections.
The news release cites Charles Hall, a spokesperson for the Justice at Stake Campaign in Washington as summing up the 2010 judicial campaign season: “The new politics of judicial elections continues to reach states that haven’t experienced it before, and that’s been the story of the 2010 campaign.”
We have long been concerned about the role of money in judicial elections, and as the amount of money involved grows so do the reasons to worry. With more states engaging in expensive judicial elections, the problem is only getting worse. Expensive judicial campaigns create the perception that justice is for sale. Merit selection is a way to take money out of the equation and maintain judicial independence.