It’s almost a year until the next election, and Super PACs and special interest groups are already airing ads all over the country. As we inch closer to election day, they’re going to get worse.
Citizens United is threatening to reduce our elections to a game of “who has the biggest wallet.”
Our campaign finance system can’t take another hit — and with the McCutcheon case looming, ready to strike another blow to our campaign finance safeguards, we all need to take action. Tell Congress to take action to reverse the effects of Citizens United.
The only way we can win this fight is if we continue to work together.
U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
Special-interest groups and political parties spent an unprecedented $24.1 million on television ads and election materials in state court races in 2011-2012, according to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
The report, The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12: How New Waves of Special Interest Spending Raised the Stakes for Fair Courts, provides a comprehensive look at 2011-2012 state Supreme Court elections. In the first election cycle since Citizens United, independent spending helped fuel the costliest election cycle for TV spending in judicial election history and posed new threats to fair and impartial justice.
Among the report’s key findings:
- Non-candidate groups (including political parties) pumped in 43% of all funds spent on state high court elections, compared to 22% in the last presidential election cycle. Super PACs and other outside groups funneled big spending into some state judicial elections for the first time.
- 35% of all funds spent on state high court races came from ten deep-pocketed special interest groups and political parties, compared to 21%, coming from the top ten “super spenders” in 2007-08.
- A record $33.7 million was spent on Supreme Court campaign TV ads, far exceeding the previous record of $26.6 million in 2007-08. Negative TV ads aired in at least ten states.
- National politics invaded judicial races in 2011-12. In Iowa, TV ads referenced marriage equality; in Florida, the federal Affordable Care Act; and in Wisconsin, collective bargaining rights.
The report also found legislative attacks on merit-based systems for judge selection, including anti-retention campaigns in Florida and Iowa. Florida experienced record spending by all sides when three state Supreme Court justices stood for retention. On Election Day 2012, however, voters retained the three Florida justices and a challenged justice in Iowa. Voters also rejected ballot measures in three states to give politicians more power over the courts.
The report warns of future attacks on reforms designed to protect fair courts and harmful spending trends. According to the report, “Perhaps most disturbing of all, … is that while independent spending on state court races ballooned in 2011–12, it still has room to grow. …[F]uture years may see an even greater expansion in independent spending by interest groups and parties in judicial elections.”
The New Politics of Judicial Elections reports, produced biennially, have monitored election spending and other threats to the impartiality of state courts since 2000.
Read the New Politics report here.
Antonin Scalia - Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia struggled to recall the names of all nine active Supreme Court justices while playing a trivia game Thursday, sources confirmed.
“Let’s see, there’s Breyer, um…Ginsburg. Pretty sure that’s one. And, uh, there’s that guy with the bow tie and the pinched face,” said Justice Scalia, noting that his difficulty in answering stemmed largely from the significant turnover on the nation’s highest court since he memorized the names of its members in high school. “I can picture him in the photo, but what’s his name? Oh, I remember Clarence Thomas, of course, because of the Anita Hill thing, and then there’s that Mexican woman with the name that’s impossible to pronounce. And…Kerrigan?”
After initially declining offers of a hint, Justice Scalia reportedly caved in and asked if someone could just give him the first couple letters of each justice’s last name.
Via The Onion. Happy April 1!
The Supreme Court has ruled that slaughterhouse regulation is up to the federal government and struck down a law requiring euthanization of livestock too sick to walk.
The Justices agreed with the National Meat Association that California’s 2009 law violates a federal statute that sets national standards for meat safety.
Justice Elena Kagan said the Federal Meat Inspection Act is clear. FMIA “regulates slaughterhouses’ handling and treatment of nonambulatory pigs from the moment of their delivery through the end of the meat production process,” she wrote. California’s law “endeavors to regulate the same thing, at the same time, in the same place — except by imposing different requirements. The FMIA expressly preempts such a state law.”
California passed its law after the Humane Society of the United States released a video of “downer” livestock being shocked and dragged at a slaughterhouse.
The law bans slaughterhouses from buying, butchering or selling downer livestock for human consumption and calls for immediate euthanization of the animals.
FMIA, however, allows federal inspectors to decide whether a nonambulatory animal is fit for human consumption.
The number of pigs becoming nonambulatory after delivery to the slaughterhouse is estimated at 100,000 to 1 million of the 100 million swine slaughtered each year.
California had contended that its law did not run afoul of the federal regulations because it was removing livestock before the federal requirements kicked in.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, had upheld the law.
Wrote Justice Kagan: “The FMIA’s scope includes not only ‘animals that are going to be turned into meat,’ but animals on a slaughterhouse’s premises that will never suffer that fate,” such as diseased hogs.
Via The Washington Post.
Image via Wikipedia
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously for a drug suspect who had an electronic tracking device attached to his car by police, who did not first get an extended warrant.
The Justices said secretly placing the device and monitoring his movements for weeks constituted a government “search,” and the man’s constitutional rights were violated.