I probably worry more about the buying of judicial elections than I do about Congress, because the corporate and right-wing handmaidens put into these positions will be around to wreak havoc on a larger scale for a very long time. Via Think Progress, look at the huge amounts of cash they pour into these races:
After the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate money in American elections, the decision’s defenders claimed this wasn’t such a big deal because unions could also take advantage of the decision. A new report by three leading voting rights and judicial independence groups gives the lie to this claim. According to the report, just three corporate interest groups — The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council of Alabama, and the Illinois Civil Justice League spent more than 13 times as much trying to influence state supreme court elections as the entire labor movement.
The report focuses on the 2009-10 cycle, so it does not include the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race where incumbent Justice David Prosser narrowly defeated a progressive challenger after corporate front groups rode to his rescue with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of funds.
Piety figures large in Alabama politics, but the righteous are few and the courageous questioner even more uncommon. Having seen more than its fair share of injustice, this state has not been helped by its major media over the years. I am not just talking about the ancient history of lynching reports or headlines about Martin Luther King Jr's 'communist ties,' either. As Scott Horton wrote of the Don Siegelman case in Harper'sjust four years ago,
The response to (Dana Jill) Simpson’s affidavit has been a series of brusque dismissive statements—all of them unsworn—from others who figured in the discussion and the federal prosecutor in the Siegelman case, who has now made a series of demonstrably false statements concerning the matter. She’s been smeared as “crazy” and as a “disgruntled contract bidder.” And something nastier: after her intention to speak became known, Simpson’s house was burned to the ground, and her car was driven off the road and totaled. Clearly, there are some very powerful people in Alabama who feel threatened. Her case starts to sound like a chapter out of John Grisham’s book The Pelican Brief. However, those who have dismissed Simpson are in for a very rude surprise. Her affidavit stands up on every point, and there is substantial evidence which will corroborate its details.
This disclosure was treated as explosive news by Time Magazine and the New York Times. However, newspapers inside of Alabama reacted with awkward silence, as if these disclosures were very unpleasant news, best swept immediately under the living room carpet. I will single out the Birmingham News and the Mobile Register. I took some time earlier this week to review their coverage of the Siegelman story from the beginning. It left me wondering whether these publications were really newspapers. (Emphasis mine)
Local television news is not any better here. During the 2010 campaign primary, Democrat-turned-Republican Parker Griffith got oozing coverage from WZDX, the Huntsville FOX affiliate, for a made-up award he presented to a pair of schoolboys who had rescued a man. The segment came across as little different from a fawning state-media production, with exactly the same production values. And it was not the worst thing I have seen, or heard, from Alabama's for-profit media.
Which is why I am crashing the gates of Goat Hill next week. If you don't hear from me by Wednesday, it might be that I have been "disappeared" by Karl Rove's black ops team. Much more after the jump...
Elected judges become additional legislatures. Want to get rid of punitive damages against corporations? Bankroll a candidate who supports corporate interests. Can't get the legislature to pass a gay-marriage bill? Bankroll 3-5 gay-marriage supporters and stack the state supreme court. Judicial elections are cheaper anyway, so you save money by focusing on elected judges instead of elected representatives.
In rare public remarks last week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the money involved in electing judges remains one of the most pressing concerns facing the American court system. And she joined her former colleague, Sandra Day O'Connor, in calling for reform.
"If there's a reform I would make, it would be that," Ginsburg said when asked about the issue at the National Association of Women Judges Thursday night.
Yet money has continued to pour into the campaign accounts of state judges around the country, and ABC News has obtained an advanced copy of a study showing the amounts involved are unprecedented.
In the past decade, candidates for state judgeships raised more than $206 million, more than double the $83 million judges raised in the 1990s, according to the soon-to-be released study by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and Justice at Stake, two non partisan groups that advocate for reforming the judicial selection process.
Three of the last five state Supreme Court election cycles topped $45 million. And judges shattered fundraising records in all but two of the 21 states with contested Supreme Court elections in the last ten years, the report found.
"State judicial elections have been transformed," the report says, and the money involved has created "a grave and growing challenge to the impartiality of our nation's courts."