The 2008 state Supreme Court elections continued aÂ trend of runaway spending in which secret money by third-party groups fueledÂ ”bareknuckle races” in numerous states, according toÂ an article by stateline.org, an online news service.
The article, which cited Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice, said:
“Critics, ranging from grassroots organizations to former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day Oâ€™Connor, say judicial races in states with head-to-head elections have become so polarizing â€” and so suffused with campaign contributions from wealthy outside interest groups â€” that they blur the line between politics and the law. The races, they say, undermine public faith in the courts by raising questions about whether candidates are beholden to the interests that helped finance their campaigns.
“Few states have contribution limits for third-party groups in judicial races. High court elections in several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington state, have shattered spending records in recent years â€” usually with the help of outside money.”
But the article notes thatÂ there is disagreement over howÂ best to reformÂ judicial elections,Â reporting that commission appointment systems have recently been criticized by governors in New York and Florida for not presenting sufficiently diverse slates of judicial candidates.Â