Once the sleepy backwater of electoral politics, judicial elections
have recently become a battleground where right wing and corporategroups
spend large sums to fill the courts with jurists who will support their
interests. This is perhaps the most troubling example of money
corrupting our politics, because instead of pay-to-play politics it
gives us pay-to-win justice. The independence of the judiciary simply
cannot be maintained in an environment where juristsare competing for votes in high-priced, bare-knuckle political brawls.
Those closest to the process are the most aware of the problems that
have infused judicial elections. The American Bar Association itself has endorsed public financing of judicial campaigns.
Increasingly, judges are following suit and suggesting a variety of
ways to get the money out of judicial politics, including public
financing. The group that is leading the effort to reform judicial
elections is the Justice at Stake Campaign.
Much of the information contained in this section is derived from their reports,
and legislators and advocates looking to bolster judicial independence
in their states will find their resources and assistance invaluable.