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New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12

New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12

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“The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2011-12” analyzes the prominent role of special interest money in state Supreme Court elections. In 2011-12, many of these races “seemed alarmingly indistinguishable from ordinary political campaigns—featuring everything from Super PACs and mudslinging attack ads to millions of dollars of candidate fundraising and independent spending.” The report documents how the “boundaries that keep money and political pressure from interfering with the rule of law have become increasingly blurred.”
“The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2011-12” analyzes the prominent role of special interest money in state Supreme Court elections. In 2011-12, many of these races “seemed alarmingly indistinguishable from ordinary political campaigns—featuring everything from Super PACs and mudslinging attack ads to millions of dollars of candidate fundraising and independent spending.” The report documents how the “boundaries that keep money and political pressure from interfering with the rule of law have become increasingly blurred.”

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Published by: The Brennan Center for Justice on Oct 23, 2013
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05/08/2015

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State Supreme Court elections have been caught
up in national political trends for more than a
decade, but never more conspicuously than in
2011–12.

Wedge political issues were injected into sev-
eral races, with TV ads referencing marriage for
same-sex couples in Iowa, the federal Affordable
Care Act in Florida, and collective bargaining in
Wisconsin—all issues that had appeared or were
likely to appear before each state’s high court.

Numerous groups more commonly associated
with national politics and presidential and leg-
islative races also weighed in on state judicial
races, as did national groups focused on the
courts.

The New Politics of Judicial Elections: 2011–12

11

Des Moines Register,
September 18, 2012

Americans for Prosperity was one national orga-
nization that put new focus on judicial races.
AFP spent $250,000 on direct mailings in sup-
port of incumbent Justice Paul Newby in North
Carolina, which it described as its “largest
judicial issue advocacy effort ever.”6

The mailing
praised Justice Newby for upholding the rights
of taxpayers to sue the government over misuse
of taxpayer dollars. AFP also put $155,000 toward
television ads and other advocacy to oppose the
retention of three state Supreme Court justices

on the ballot in Florida.7

Koch Industries, the
Wichita-based company owned by the conser-
vative billionaire brothers Charles and David
Koch, likewise contributed to Republican judi-
cial candidates in Louisiana and Texas.

Other, mostly conservative, national groups
opened their pocketbooks as well, including:

The Washington, D.C.-based Judicial
Crisis Network, a conservative group
focused on the courts, which spent

12

Chapter 1 | The Money Trail

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