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Judge for Yourself

Posted on: November 3rd, 2011 by Larry

In recent years, the amount of money spent on campaigns and elections at all levels has increased. People donate to the candidates or causes that they want to support, whether as individuals or as part of an organization or committee.

With the backing of recent Supreme Court rulings, these funders are feeling more powerful than ever. They are no longer content to only throw their money behind legislative and executive candidates.  They are now targeting the judiciary, where permitted.

In many states, judges have to campaign to get or hold their seats, and campaigning costs money, which means they are dependent on funders. Some worry that this will influence judges’ decisions once they are elected, and that they will no longer be neutral – that those who give to elections are essentially “buying judges.” Read more.

A judge is supposed to be impartial. But when big donors have a vested interest in how a judge rules, can they really play it down the middle?

  • Freedom of speech allows special interests to spend all sorts of money to speak out for their candidates or against the ones they oppose. And those who don’t have money only have a vote. Is this fair? Should there be a limit to freedom of speech?
  • Why are judges elected in the first place? In some states they are appointed, but then the judges are beholden to politicians. Which way to you think makes more sense? Or, is there some other way?
  • What’s the difference between donating money to a judge’s campaign and bribing a judge to get a preferred ruling?