Justices Breyer and Kennedy on Money in our Courts

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Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 2010 Citizens United case that struck down campaign spending limitations by corporations and unions. “Independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” wrote Kennedy. But many feel Citizens United breeds corruption not only in the campaigns of elected representatives, but also in judicial campaigns. In its May 2010 report “Buying Justice,” The Brennan Center for Justice argues “the most severe impact of Citizens United may be felt in state judicial elections.”

All of which makes Kennedy’s comments a decade prior in the 1999 Frontline report “Justice for Sale” curious. In the documentary (which featured Bill Moyers), Kennedy condemns the destructive impact of judicial campaign contributions on the integrity of our court system. “Money in elections presents us with a tremendous challenge, a tremendous problem,” Kennedy tells Moyers. “And we are remiss if we don’t at once address it and correct it.”

Watch that exchange between Moyers and Kennedy in this 1999 Moyers Moment — excerpted from “Justice for Sale” — which also includes Justice Stephen Breyer. Bill kicks things off with a question just as relevant and foreboding today as it was then: “Isn’t the verdict in from the people — that they cannot trust the judicial system anymore?”

Watch the complete version of “Justice for Sale

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  • http://www.facebook.com/collin.fischer Collin Fischer

    Thank you for this information. Now please address the corruption in our family courts which is destroying our children and keeping women ongoing victims of domestic violence and abusive control. If we do not end the cycle of abuse our children will become abusers, and criminals who are dependent on the system just like the disturbed fathers who are being forced upon them. Justice is bought and sold in our family courts every day.Something must be done to help our most vulnerable citizens who have nowhere to turn.

  • Tom Caracciolo

    Click on or copy and paste into your browser and see how the whole problem caused by money flooding into Judical Elections and even seriously influencing our Supreme Court Justices can be solved – http://signon.org/sign/take-money-out-of-politics

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Chesky/1341104608 James Chesky

    Moyers needs to do this interview again.I would like to hear what others on the court have to say now. Plus, I believe the polling figures would be even more dire.

  • Anonymous

    I think the Freudian slip “infect” the court was right on the money! It is NOT ok to buy congress any more than it is right to buy justices. This is horrid. We have lost our democracy, because everyone is bought. The corruption is too rooted too deep.

  • Rick

    What happened to Justice Kennedy? What happened between this interview and Citizen’s United to change his mind?

  • Anonymous

    The very statements made in public, on record and recorded and in print by Justice (and I use that term loosely) Scalia et al is proof positive of this. We should have the right to demand that a justice recuse him/herself because of such statements. Or in the case of one justice whose wife is in the pocket of the medial industry and from which he has the benefit considerably financial and which funds he so conveniently did not disclose on his financial statements should be required to recuse himself from anything to do with the Affordable Care Act or any other case that comes before the court having to do with health care in any way shape or form. We do not have a Supreme Court what adheres to the tenet that “Justice is Blind” and, thus, can no longer be a impartial arm of our country. And it begins way down with the town, hamlets, communities, counties, states – locally to federally. We HAVE NO MAGISTRATES, JUDGES, JUSTICES AND WHATEVER OTHER NAME THEY CARRY WHO ARE NOT IN THE POCKETS OF MONEY. If you can find one, show me the proof – until and unless that can be verified I stand by my opinion.