I'm glad Need to Know did this segment, it reminded me of something I forgot to post when it first aired, here's Bill Moyers on Justice for sale:
How would you feel if you were in court and knew that the opposing lawyer had contributed money to the judge's campaign fund? This is not an improbable hypothetical question, but could be a commonplace occurrence in the 21 states where judges must raise money to campaign for their seats — often from people with business before the court.
Though many states have elected judges since their founding, in the past 30 years, judicial elections have morphed from low-key affairs to big money campaigns. From 1999-2008, judicial candidates raised $200.4 million, more than double the $85.4 million raised in the previous decade (1989-1998).
Because of the costs of running such a campaign, critics contend that judges have had to become politicians and fundraisers rather than jurists. In a poll by Justice at Stake, 97% of elected state Supreme Court justices said they were under pressure to raise money during their election years.
According to retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, of all the fallout from the Citizens United decision, the most dangerous may be in judicial elections. These often low-profile affairs have become extraordinarily expensive in recent years, as interest groups have sought to shape the court in their favor by electing judges who share their views. With 87% of state judges facing election, the Citizens United case could have profound effects on the nation's court system. In remarks to Georgetown University law students, O'Connor said, "This rise in judicial campaigning makes last week's opinion in Citizens United a problem for an independent judiciary. No state can possibly benefit from having that much money injected into a political campaign."
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