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The same unrestricted money that flooded political campaigns in 2012 also inundated judicial elections and is threatening public confidence in the courts and the independence of the judiciary, a new report from a trio of groups warns.
Dubbed “The New Politics of Judicial Elections,” the report identifies record levels of TV advertising and outside spending; a new class of largely conservative “super spenders,” and a surge in negative and misleading ads — all trends mirrored in last year’s presidential and congressional races.
“What this is all about is about how much insulation we are going to have around the bench,” said Bert Brandenburg, director of Justice at Stake — which co-authored the report — in a Friday conference call with reporters. “Are we going to let money erode that insulation? Are we going to let political parties erode that insulation? Are we going to let interest groups erode that insulation?”
The answer may already be yes, warns the report, whose other authors were the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law. All the groups aim to promote fair elections and courts.
The report points to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling as a watershed in judicial spending. Among the report’s key findings: Full story