Letter From The Executive Director Of The Brennan Center For Justice

2010-08-30 00:00

To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

I wanted to share with you an important report we issued earlier this week: The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2000-2009: Decade of Change. It has long been clear that special interest campaign spending poses a threat to judicial independence. Now this new report shows: it is worse than we thought. The study looks at comprehensive data and reveals that fundraising for state Supreme Court elections has doubled in the past decade - from $83.3 million during the 1990s to $206.9 million. We find many John Grisham-style instances where special interests and even litigants pour funds into races trying to tilt the scales of justice their way. The recent Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United, likely will make matters worse.

We are especially proud that retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the foreword for the report. "The crisis of confidence in the judiciary is real and growing," O'Connor warns. "Left unaddressed, the perception that justice is for sale will undermine the rule of law that the courts are supposed to uphold."

The Brennan Center for Justice coauthored the study with the Justice at Stake Campaign and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Already, we've garnered significant attention for it. The Associated Press story was syndicated in papers all over the country, NPR and the Washington Post featured stories, as well as the Philadelphia Inquirer , the Columbus Dispatch , the Detroit Free Press , the Montgomery Advertiser , and many more.

Public concern is widespread and bipartisan. We hope this report calls attention to the need for reforms that will help ensure our courts remain fair and independent.

Best regards,

Michael Waldman