The Issue: Ensuring Fair, Impartial Courts
Background: State judiciaries have not been immune from the increasing influence of money in politics, and in many states, judges are finding themselves targets of political advertising funded by those who oppose their rulings. In states across America, millions of dollars are being spent to pressure judges to answer to partisan agendas. Much of this spending targets judges at the state level.
The way in which judges are appointed differs from state to state, placing some judges in more vulnerable positions than others. In some states, the system mirrors the federal model, with the governor nominating a judge and a body of legislators confirming the governor’s nomination. In other states, judges campaign for a position on the bench and have to stand for reelection.
Justice at Stake’s Fair Courts YouTube channel provides a way for anyone concerned about fair, impartial courts to draw attention to ads that attack justices or the courts. Justice at Stake’s website explains that the organization “educates Americans about the crucial role of courts, defends judges from threats and intimidation, promotes diversity, and advocates reforms to keep campaign cash out of the courtroom.”
The Initiative: The Fair Courts YouTube channel is a project of the Justice at Stake campaign. Anyone who sees an ad related to judicial elections is asked to contribute to the video collection, drawing attention to the well-funded attack on court systems nationwide. If you see an ad attacking a judge or justice in your state, you can notify Justice at Stake, or capture the ad yourself and send it to them.
- You can watch videos attacking and supporting the courts on the Fair Courts YouTube page, or send one you found to Justice at Stake.
- On the Justice at Stake website, you can find out about your own state's method of choosing judges.
- You can also read about Supreme Court cases that opened the doors to an influx of money that could influence the election of state-level judges.