Ronald Reagan’s appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has joined the cause of reforming state judicial campaign and election systems. She writes in her introduction to a new report that the "crisis of confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary is real and growing" and if left unaddressed "the perception that justice is for sale will undermine the rule of law that courts are supposed to uphold." O’Connor continues “…elected judges in many states are compelled to solicit money for their election campaigns, sometimes from lawyers and parties appearing before them.” and “… three out of four Americans believe that campaign contributions affect courtroom decisions."
One of the most blatant examples of overly cozy relationships between judges and their campaign donors highlighted in the report involves Don Blankenship of Massey Energy who spent $3 million to elect a West Virginia justice. You’ll remember Massey Energy from the worst US mine disaster in 40 years which killed 29 miners in April this year.
How many disasters does it take to decide it’s time to fix our broken government? The BP oil spill, the explosion at the Massey Energy mine, the crash on Wall Street, there’s one common denominator—money—and there’s one common solution: end legalized bribery dressed up as campaign contributions from big business. Let the people of a state decide who they want to run for the judiciary with small contributions so we can have fair elections and government that works for a change.
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