Wednesday, August 30, 2006

U.S. State Supreme Court Elections - The Role of Big Money, Lobbies, and TV Air Wars

We Canadians thought that allowing a parliamentary committee to very briefly and very, very politely interview a nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada last winter was a big deal. And they even did it on TV! Wow, that sure made us feel innovative. Maybe even a little too radical for Canada.

Many expressed worries that this could lead to an overpoliticization of the judicial appointment process in Canada.

Well, our friends in the great Republic to the South seem to have an even bigger problem: the rapidly growing influence of big money in judicial elections for state supreme courts.

Our neighbours elect many of their judges, up to the highest courts at the state level. And whenever there is talk of elections U.S.-style, that means dumptrucks full of money, powerful lobbying interests and TV campaigns.

The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law has been tracking the role of television "ad wars" in these elections since the year 2000. This 2006 U.S. election season is no different.

"During the 2006 election season, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law will be releasing weekly, real-time reports on television advertising in state Supreme Court elections. The reports, to be released after Labor Day through November 16, will analyze campaign advertising by candidates, political parties, and interest groups".

Early indications so far show that judicial races this year are on pace, dollar-wise, with the record-breaking 2004 elections.

The Center believes that the growing influence of money on judicial elections and pressure on candidates to make commitments about how they will rule if elected to the bench threaten public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

Earlier Library Boy posts about judicial selection include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:37 pm

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