Oct 23 2012
A recent blog compared NFL referees with courtroom judges. Both sides want the decider to be impartial and skilled. However, when judges are required to actively fundraise in order to successfully campaign for a
seat on the bench and special interest groups, lawyers and litigants who may later appear before the judge donate large sums of money,
how impartial are the judges?
This problem has ballooned within the last decade. In 1990, state Supreme Court candidates raised approximately $3 million. However, by 2000, some high court candidates raised more than $45 million. Further, some of these contributors are corporate special interests, expecting some sort of benefit for their contribution. A Center for American Progress study reported, “In courtrooms across the country, big corporations and other special interests are tilting the playing field in their favor.”
Although judges are supposed to be impartial, there are political movements across the country to oust judges that decide against political partisans. For example, a Pennsylvania Tea Party faction set out to defeat a few state Supreme Court justices who refused to uphold to voter ID law. In Iowa, one party, Iowans for Freedom is leading the call to remove Judge David Wiggins. He was involved in a unanimous ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. An opposing party, Justice Not Politics has emerged to protect the court system, merit selection and retention. They explain, “If politics and campaign money are allowed into the courts, justice will be for sale.”
Tags: campaign contributions, iowa, Pennsylvania