52 Ariz. L. Rev. 207 (2010)
Big Money and Impartial Justice: Can They Live Together

handle is hein.journals/arz52 and id is 215 raw text is: BIG MONEY AND IMPARTIAL JUSTICE:
CAN THEY LIVE TOGETHER?
Bert Brandenburg*
Many Americans believe that justice is for sale. Over the past decade, polling data
has shown that a majority of Americans believe campaign contributions can tilt the
scales of justice by influencing courtroom decisions. Two recent US. Supreme
Court cases, Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Company and Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission, have once again drawn attention to this trend in
public opinion and, in particular, to the influence of campaign contfributions on
judicial decision-making. This Article provides an overview of fundraising,
spending, and advertising in judicial campaigns, discusses public confidence in the
courts, and explores reform efforts to protect the impartiality of the judiciary.
INTRODUCTION
During the past decade state judicial elections have dramatically changed.
In order to get elected, judicial candidates have had to raise millions of dollars
from parties who may eventually appear before them. Partisan and special interest
groups have poured millions more into the campaign coffers of judicial candidates
with the aim of tilting the scales of justice their way. On the campaign trail,
judicial candidates face heightened pressure to signal courtroom rulings. And
campaign ads are frequently nasty, misleading, and uninformative. As things grow
worse, many Americans have come to fear that justice is for sale.
In this Article, we examine the surge in judicial campaign fundraising
over the past ten years and the key states that have seen exorbitant spending in
their elections. We also look at the emergence of non-candidate groups as major
players in judicial elections. We explore the trends and key spenders and show
how the impact of reforms such as public financing and disclosure laws reduces
the money spent on judicial elections and can help increase public confidence in
the courts.
*  Executive Director, Justice at Stake Campaign. Justice at Stake is a
nonpartisan national partnership of more than fifty organizations working to keep courts
fair, impartial and independent. The opinions of Justice at Stake partners are their own.
Special thanks for assistance in research and preparation of this article go to Aaron Ament
and Charles Hall at Justice at Stake.

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