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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