High court judges don't have to rely on special interests in New Mexico and West Virginia
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. But as Brennan’s Alicia Bannon notes, a solution lies in “introducing public financing so judges don’t have to rely on special interests to get elected.”
While North Carolina's popular and successful system of judicial public financing was unfortunately repealed last year, both West Virginia and New Mexico have them in place and they're working as planned. In West Virginia, after a successful pilot program in 2012, the legislature made the program permanent last year, and it will be available for 2016 Supreme Court elections. In New Mexico, where appellate court candidates can run clean and free of special interest influence, both the Republican and Democratic candidates ran with public funding this cycle—Republican judge Miles Hanisee was victorious last night.
West Virginia and New Mexico’s judicial public financing systems, along with statewide and legislative systems in Connecticut, Maine, Arizona and elsewhere point toward a different path for elections and a more vibrant democracy where everyday voices are engaged and fewer special interests hold sway.