Money in Judicial Elections

The NPR program On the Media, broadcast by KUT on Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM and available as a podcast here, included two segments on October 26 of particular interest to CG4TX followers.

The first segment, “Grabbing the Gavel” (available as a separate podcast here), reported on a new study which found that TV ads attacking state supreme court justices during elections influence not only who gets elected but also how sitting judges rule. The segment’s description:

SuperPacs and 501c4s are some of the biggest spenders on political advertising for would-be legislators, mayors and governors. But state judges also are on the campaign finance gravy train, often as the subject of attack ads labeling them “soft on crime.” According to new research, it turns out those ads influence the way judges make decisions in the courtroom. Bob [Garfield, the show’s host] talks with Emory University law professor Joanna Shepherd, co-author of the study Skewed Justice: Citizens United, Television Advertising and State Supreme Court Justices’ Decisions in Criminal Cases.

One of the comments on this segment contains a link to a Federalist Society publication, “The Case for Partisan Judicial Elections.”

The other segment, “A Modest Election Finance Reform Proposal (That Might Actually Work)” (available as a separate podcast here) addresses “dark money,” political donations that cannot be traced to any person or organization, which is buying an avalanche of ads in states with big mid-term elections this year. Bob Garfield talks with Heather K. Gerken, a Yale University law professor, who has an original proposal to stem dark money’s influence.


About Hamilton Richards

He retired in 2006 as a Senior Lecturer in Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. These days he volunteers technical support for Citizens' Climate Lobby (Austin chapter), Common Ground for Texans, (, Integrity Texas (, Austin Rowing Club, and several friends.
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