judicial public financing
Spending on judicial elections has reached an all time high, according to new analysis from Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice. Television ad spending in state Supreme Court elections rose to $13.8 million this year, surpassing the 2010 mark of $12.2 million.
On Thursday night, the North Carolina House gave final approval to an anti-democracy elections overhaul bill that makes it harder to vote, allows more money into the political system, and repeals the state’s public financing laws, including the landmark judicial system. It now goes to Gov. Pat McCory for his signature.
North Carolina has been in the news a lot recently due to the state legislature taking extreme actions on scores of issues, most notably voting rights. But the latest example shows how one multi-millionaire, Art Pope, can weild enormous influence, and single-handedly kill the states' successful and popular judicial public financing system.
On Friday, Chris Hayes of MSNBC ran a segment on North Carolina, and Art Pope's infleunce. Check it out here:
A new study of several thousand court decisions conducted by the American Constitution Society has concluded that larger business donations to judicial candidates are correlated to more pro-business rulings by those judges. These findings held both in states that have partisan judicial races and those that do not. Given the recent increases in expenditures on judicial races, the implications of influence on judges is one ripe for study.
Of the 15 judges on the bipartisan North Carolina Court of Appeals, 14 are urging lawmakers in their state to continue public financing of judicial elections. The judges urged Republican State Senate leader Phil Berger to preserve the current system, despite their individual partisan differences.
The West Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation Wednesday to make permanent the state’s judicial public financing system for elections to the state's highest court, the Supreme Court of Appeals. HB 2085 passed the House on a vote of 70 to 29.
Last Friday, the West Virginia State Supreme Court unanimously rejected a judicial candidate's appeal for the release of trigger funds. The state's pilot progam in judicial public financing provides and initial grant allows for additional public funds to be disbursed to a participating candidate if they face a privately financed candidate who spends at a certain level.
Campaign Finance/Fair Elections
A letter in Kansas talks about the influence of Wall Street on our political process. "Getting rid of the influence of large contributions, big money bundlers and contributions by lobbyists is possible. However, true campaign finance reform will require a broad-based mass movement demanding a law similar to the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 750, H.R. 1404)."
Campaign Finance/Fair Elections
The one-percent solution
More from the Boston Review forum on campaign finance reform. The Campaign Finance Institute's Michael Malbin writes on increasing participation with public matching funds.
And former Sen. Warren Rudman writes that Fair Elections is the solution.