Special Interests Control Our Judges

Campaign cash compromises their integrity: Adam Cohen

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 31, 2011 4:59 PM CDT

(Newser) – It’s not just legislative and executive elections that are unfairly influenced by big money. America needs to wake up to the power of special interests in judicial elections, writes Adam Cohen in Time. A new study sees “big business, corporate lobbyists, and trial lawyers” spending cash to get the judges they want elected. The result: “courts that are filled with judges whose first loyalty is not to justice—or to the general public—but to insurance companies, big business and other special interests," Cohen writes.

In many cases, single-issue groups are running the show. Take Iowa, for instance: Special interests bought attack ads to help push out the judges who supported gay marriage. What’s more, state disclosure laws often allow the special-interest donors to remain anonymous. The authors of the study call for increased public financing for judicial elections. Others suggest ditching direct judicial elections and having judges appointed. What’s clear, writes Cohen, is that “the American ideal of justice requires neutral judges, whose only commitment is to the law."

Campaign money is hurting the fairness of the judicial system, Adam Cohen writes.
Campaign money is hurting the fairness of the judicial system, Adam Cohen writes.   (Shutterstock)
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