93 Judicature 150 (2009-2010)
Has the New Style of Judicial Campaigning Reached Lower Court Elections

handle is hein.journals/judica93 and id is 150 raw text is: Has the
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reached lower court
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DANIEL S. MORRIS
ower court campaigns have historically been low    ruling in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White I loosened
profile friends and neighbors affairs.' Campaigns  speech restrictions in judicial campaigns, freeing the rhet-
consisted of small or                                                 oric of judicial campaigns
nonexistent  organizations   A survey ofjudicial candidates in six states    and creating worries that
that raised little money and                                               these campaigns will trans-
therefore communicated with indicates lower court races are still low salience, form into free-for-alls of
voters primarily on an individ-  sleepy affairs, with a focus on traditional  attacks and issue advertis-
ual basis through personal                  court themes.                   ing. In the 2009 case of
contacts and handshake cam-                                                  Caperton v. Massey Coal Co.,'
paigning. Incumbents in                                                     the Court ruled that West
lower court campaigns won reelection easily, often in uncon-  Virginia's chief justice had violated litigants' due process

tested races. When lower court elections were contested,
they featured little to no acrimony and interest groups
steered clear of them.3
In the 1980s, judicial observers began to take notice of
a new style of campaigning, particularly in state supreme
court elections.' Contemporary supreme court elections
have become slick, professionalized affairs featuring high-
dollar campaigns, expensive television advertising, and
increasing influence from parties and interest groups.'
Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has changed the
legal framework ofjudicial elections, stirring more contro-
versy about how judicial campaigns operate. The Court's

Funding for this report was provided by the Research Assistance Program
at John Jay College, City University of New York, and research funds pro-
vided by Texas Tech University. The authors graciously thank these sponsors.
The authors also want to thank Erin Ackerman as well as the anonymous
reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.
1. Larry. T. Aspin and William K Hall, Friends and Neighbors Voting injudi-
cial Retention Elections: A Research Note Comparing Trial and Appellate Court Elec-
tions, 42 W. POL. Q. 587-596 (1989), Roy. A. Schotland, Elective Judges'
Campaign Financing: Are State Judges' Robes the Emperor's Clothes of American
Democracy, 2J. L. & POL. 57-167 (1985).
2. Philip L. Dubois, Penny for Your Thoughts? Campaign Spending in California
Trial Court Elections, 1976-1982, 3 W. POL. Q. 265-284 (1986). Writing in 1986,
Dubois noted that Although there have been no studies of the organizations
that support judicial campaigns, these organizations are probably quite small,
consisting of the candidates' closest professional colleagues and even mem-
bers of their immediate families, at 277.

150  JUDICATURE Volume 93, Number 4 January-February 2010

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