Saturday, May 19, 2007

Lobbyist Influence Grows in US Court Elections

This is a follow-up to the August 30, 3006 Library Boy posting entitled U.S. State Supreme Court Elections - The Role of Big Money, Lobbies, and TV Air Wars.

That post explained the work of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School that has been tracking "the rapidly growing influence of big money in judicial elections for state supreme courts."

The Justice at Stake Campaign, a national U.S. coalition fighting to protect the fairness and impartiality of the American judicial system, has just released a new report that documents the rise of large campaign contributions in judicial elections south of the border.

Among the key findings:

  • TV ads in high court campaigns ran in 10 of 11 states with contested elections, compared to four of 18 states in 2000. Average television spending per state was $1.6 million (US), a new record. An overwhelming majority of independent expenditure television advertising was sponsored by groups on the political right.
  • Median fundraising by candidates for state high courts hit a record high of $243,910 (US). In other words, getting to the bench has never been so expensive for so many.
  • State Supreme Court elections attracted record sums from business interests, a reflection of the importance of state courts in setting corporate damage payments. Campaign finance analysis shows that business gave $2 for every $1 donated by lawyers directly to candidates, and independent committees aligned with business interests dramatically outspent groups on the left.
  • Judicial candidates presented a united front in overwhelmingly rejecting pressure-filled questionnaires from special interest groups. For example, only 17 percent of candidate’s for seats on Florida’s trial courts responded to a question demanding their position on same-sex marriage.
  • Television advertising has become a major weapon for groups doing battle over state high courts. In 2006, pro-business groups accounted for 90 percent of all independent spending on TV ads in high court races.

[Source: Docuticker]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:02 pm

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