Saturday, March 22, 2008

State Courts, Inc.

Here's a brief follow-up to Neil's post yesterday on Jeff Rosen's NY Times magazine article on the Supreme Court. The Chamber of Commerce has not restricted its activity to training business-side lawyers for U.S. Supreme Court arguments. It has also been active at the state court level in getting business-friendly judges elected. In the Wall Street Journal today, James Sample of the Brennan Center observes: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce got involved in 13 judicial races in 2004 and won 12."

Sample's larger point (available here) is that the flood of money in state judicial elections is creating an extraordinary appearance (and probably the reality) of impropriety. Worth a read.

Posted by Mike Dorf

7 comments:

Neil H. Buchanan said...

The WSJ op-ed by James Sample to which Mike links is very interesting. (To be fair to Jeff Rosen, his article also mentioned the Chamber of Commerce's efforts in the state judicial election arena; but it's also fair to say that the clear focus of the article was the U.S. Supreme Court.)

Within an otherwise fascinating op-ed, though, Sample offers this oddity: "Business interests and trial lawyers both lay out campaign cash to ensure that sympathetic judges are elected. Both sides attempt to manipulate courts; business just happens to be better at winning. ... Nationwide in 2006, business donors contributed twice as much to state supreme court candidates as attorneys, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics."

Hmmmm. I would probably "just happen to be better at winning" a money-based game if I had more money, too.

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