National: Supreme Court upholds ban on judicial candidates soliciting campaign contributions — even via mass mailings – The Washington Post
In 39 states, judges are popularly elected (or at least voters must decide whether to retain them). This means that judicial candidates — especially ones who aren’t incumbents — have to campaign for office, and those campaigns cost money. Campaigns thus have to raise that money, in contributions from the public. This raises an obvious danger: Judges may well be influenced to rule in favor of those lawyers or litigants who contributed to their campaigns. Even if the judges are trying hard to be honest, and to ignore who helped them and who didn’t, thinking better of your political friends is human nature, and hard to avoid. Such favoritism is even more harmful for judges, who are supposed to be impartial, than for elected officials. And the possibility of such favoritism undermines “public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the nation’s elected judges” (to quote today’s Court decision). Nor does capping the size of contributions (as states may do for all candidates, legislative, executive, or judicial) solve the problem.