f you really think about it, who among us hasn’t been accused on television of coddling child molesters? A few years ago, in the spirit of Halloween, we created an “Evil Men in Black Robes” Halloween Spooktackular, pulling together some of the worst in scary judicial election attack ads. Well, they’re baaaaack, and some of them are worse than ever. This time it’s not just the judicial candidates literally inhabiting the pockets of special interests (although we do have a creepy pocket judge again), but also sitting judges accused of coddling child molesters, rapists, and more. In 39 states, some or all judges must face some kind of election—often a partisan one. These races used to be about as interesting to watch as Bingo night. But now, it’s all Law and Order, and all the time. The ads are scarier than the shows they interrupt.
These new judicial attack ads are a consequence of a series of Supreme Court rulings that have allowed judicial elections to get noisier, nastier, and costlier, with no limit on outside spending by groups such as the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity. As the Brennan Center and Justice at Stake just reported, “With less than a week until Election Day, special interest groups have dramatically increased TV ad spending to influence state Supreme Court races in Illinois, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, and Ohio. Outside groups have spent nearly $2.1 million on TV ad buys in these states for the November general election, with nearly $1 million spent over the last week.”
The Institute for Southern Studies reported today that the candidates running for the North Carolina Supreme Court have raised nearly $3.8 million for their campaigns this year and that outside political groups have spent an additional $1.4 million on the state supreme court race, for a total of a record-shattering $5.2 million. Congratulations North Carolina! That’s a small price to pay to completely destroy any lingering confidence in the judicial branch!