The Politics Of Judicial Elections

Brennan Center Releases New Report, The Politics of Judicial Elections 2017-18
On December 11, the Brennan Center for Justice released a new report, The Politics of Judicial Elections, 2017-18: How Dark Money, Interest Groups, and Big Donors Shape State High Courts, analyzing spending in state supreme court elections during the 2017-18 election cycle. The report, based on data from the National Institute on Money in Politics, found that $39.7 million was spent in 48 races to elect state supreme court judges in 21 states.
Among the report’s findings were that special interest groups accounted for 27 percent of every dollar spent in state supreme court campaigns, and that eight of the ten biggest spenders did not disclose the source of their funds. For example, Arkansas saw the most outside spending with over $2.8 million, which made up 84 percent of all the state’s spending. Much of this outside spending in Arkansas came from the Judicial Crisis Network, a group which spent $10 million last year to support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Other major findings include the biggest source of dark money was likely the Judicial Crisis Network and states have made little progress towards achieving more diverse state supreme court benches. The report argues that the continued proliferation of expensive and politicized elections threatens the hope of equal justice for all.

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