A Michigan newspaper is spotlighting a lack of transparency in that state’s judicial elections, citing a recent Justice at Stake report about special-interest spending and joining numerous other newspapers calling for reform.
“Judicial campaigns increasingly are becoming the target of special interests, and nowhere is the trend more evident than in Michigan,” says the Battle Creek Enquirer editorial, citing the “New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2009-10” report co-authored by JAS. Michigan had the most expensive high court elections in the last election cycle.
“The most disturbing aspect of the infusion of big bucks into races for state supreme court, appellate court and other judgeships is the lack of transparency about who is providing the money – and what they expect for their investment,” the editorial continues.
The increasing influence of political parties and outside interest groups in judicial elections, warns the editorial, “has the potential to undermine our system of checks and balances between the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government.”
In addition to seeking disclosure of who is behind the special interest spending, it continues, “perhaps more states should consider the federal model of appointing judges, rather than electing them.” The recent report, the editorial says, “provides evidence of why it might be a wise choice for more states to consider.”
To learn about other editorials calling for reform in the wake of the “New Politics” report, see Gavel Grab.