One of the important undertakings of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law is the Fair Courts Project. From its self-description:
The Center’s Fair Courts Project works to preserve fair and impartial courts and their role as the ultimate guarantor of equal justice in our constitutional democracy. Our research, public education, and advocacy focus on improving selection systems (including elections), increasing diversity on the bench, promoting measures of accountability that are appropriate for judges, and keeping courts in balance with other governmental branches.
Among the Project’s publications are several of particular interest to Coffee Party Austin:
- The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2000-2009: Decade of Change, a perennial favorite of Coffee Party Austin members interested in money in politics.
- The New Politics of Judicial Elections: How 2000 Was a Watershed Year for Big Money, Special Interest Pressure, and TV Advertising in State Supreme Court Campaigns. The first in the acclaimed New Politics series.
- Buying Justice: The Impact of Citizens United on Judicial Elections, prominently quoted in the program for Lawrence Lessig’s presentation.
- Buying Time—2010: Texas. Includes videos of advertisements in Texas judicial races.
- Public Funding of Judicial Elections: Financing Campaigns for Fair and Impartial Courts. This paper makes the case for public financing of judicial elections from several perspectives. First, it describes current circumstances and the need for change. Then, it describes public financing options for contested and retention elections. Finally, it makes the case that these options are constitutionally permissible and sound.
The Project publishes a weekly e-mail newsletter, Fair Courts E-lerts, which presents a roundup of developments concerning judges and the judiciary. One recent E-lert reports that the budget proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker,
if adopted, would “all but kill public financing for Supreme Court races.” The public financing program … is in place for the first time this year. Both candidates competing in the April 5 election for a seat on Wisconsin’s high court have opted into the public financing program.
Anyone who cringes at the prospect of more e-mail can read a summary of the Fair Courts E-lerts on the Fair Courts blog, which also includes other articles such as Andrew Silver’s “Two Years after Caperton, Small Steps Forward, Many More Strides Needed.”
Finally, the Project publishes accounts of court cases in which the Brennan Center has participated (mainly by filing amicus briefs). One that caught your blogger’s eye is Caperton v. Massey, one of the few recent Supreme Court decisions to impose any restraints on private funding of judicial election campaigns.