rules. Thomas Phillips, When Money Talks, the Judiciary Must Balk, Washington Post, April 14, 2002.
69. Column urges the Texas legislature to take a second look at public financing for judicial elections. Last year, a public funding measure proposed by state Rep. Pete Gallego (D.) failed to gain political momentum. However, surveys released this year by Justice at Stake find that 76% of voters and 26% of judges are concerned about the influence of campaign contributions on judicial decisions. The columnist concludes, “Public financing may seem like a radical idea, but [as one advocate of reform] puts it, Texas’ current system is ‘insane.’” Bruce Davidson, It’s Time to Take Justice Off the Market, San Antonio Express-News, April 14, 2002.
Editorial agrees with Texas State Senator Robert Duncan (R.) who opines: “The notion that the public wants to vote on . . . [judicial] races is nothing more than a fiction with no basis in reality.” Although public opinion polls report that voters would like to retain judicial elections, the editorial responds that only 1.7% of voters participated in this month’s Republican run-off elections for the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals and only 5% participated in the Democratic run-offs. The combination of partisan elections and large campaign contributions from interests likely to appear before the candidates they support has damaged public confidence in the courts. The solution, the editorial concludes, is for Texas to “dump this ripe-for corruption system before it dumps another scandal on Texas.” Drop Judicial Elections, Austin American-Statesman, April 17, 2002.
Article reports that civil rights groups and voters have filed a federal lawsuit asking that the Texas Supreme Court be “required to say how its nine members vote when deciding whether to accept civil cases for review.” One of the plaintiffs, watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, estimates that “90 percent of cases reaching the high court are turned away without hearing arguments or rendering decisions on their merits.” Because the justices are elected and accept campaign contributions, sometimes from lawyers bringing cases before them, the plaintiffs believe that making voting records public would allow voters to determine whether the justices’ decisions as to which cases to accept are improperly influenced. In a 1992 case, Chief Justice Tom Phillips said that the advantages of making votes public are “far outweighed by [the] deleterious effects on the currency of our docket, the orderly development of the law, and the harmonious workings among the justices.” David Pasztor, Suit: Court’s ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay’ Should Be Made Public, Austin American-Statesman, May 22, 2002.
72. Column supports the lawsuit filed by watchdog groups against the Texas Supreme Court seeking to force disclosure of how individual justices vote in deciding whether to hear cases. [See Court Pester, May 23.] Noting that the justices accept