Another aspect of uncontrolled corporate and union spending on political campaigns is the election of judges in thirty-nine states. While elected politicians either run things (executive) or make laws (legislative), elected judges interpret and apply the law (judicial).
The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United will impact all three branches of government, but the most harm to democracy may occur among judges selected by voters. Here’s why: If attack ads and unlimited funding render a judicial candidate invincible or unelectable – depending on who gets funded – the judges will be chosen based on money instead of competence. This potentially means more judges beholden to their contributors’ agendas; and fewer judges whom we would characterize as probative, meticulous, experienced or impartial.
Dorothy Samuels writes in a 30 January 2010 New York Times opinion, “To protect the integrity of their court systems, states need to enact basic reforms: switching from judicial elections, for instance, to the selection of judges on merit, or adopting strict rules that bar judges from ruling in cases involving major financial supporters.” I could not agree more.