judges, compared to only 36 percent who support the idea.” However, voters “believe campaign contributions undermine the process,” and 55 percent of voters admit they “had little or no information about judicial candidates in the last election.” Bruce Davidson, Low-Key Judicial Races Are Expected, San Antonio
Express-News, September 1, 2002.
8 7 . A r t i c l e d i s c u s s e s “ a c r i s i s o f c r e d i b i l i t y … g r i p p i n g m a n y o f t h e t h i r t y - n i n e s t a t e that elect appellate judges” as judges contend with a “flood of money … driven by a fierce battle over judicial philosophy that has pitted trial lawyers, consumer advocates and unions against corporations, their attorneys and their trade associations.” “In recent years, the single greatest wild card in judicial races has been the influx of anonymous spending beyond the direct control of candidates,” usually in the form of “issue advertising” which “insulates donors from disclosure, allowing for nastier, more underhanded tactics.” One major player, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, plans to spend “as much as $25 million in undisclosed contributions” in 2002. The result of such spending is likely to be “costly and bitter elections in states like Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Alabama and Idaho, where the voters’ decisions could alter the courts’ ideological makeup.” Georgetown University law professor Roy Schotland said that contribution limits and independent expenditure disclosure requirements, if narrowly tailored for judicial elections, “could pass constitutional muster.” Michael Scherer, State Judges for Sale, The Nation, September 2, 2002. s
Column argues that “Texas voters gamble every election cycle that their elected judiciary has something going for it other than catchy names or party affiliation.” The columnist asserts that “we’re reminded constantly that Texans love to vote for their judges, but I strongly suspect that it’s the special interests who control the funding it takes to run for a judgeship - particularly statewide - who love it most and best.” Asserting that “business and insurance groups and lawyers who represent the people who sue them” form the bulk of those interest groups, the columnist argues that “it suits both sides just fine that most voters don’t take the time to find out about the candidates for judgeship from the Supreme Court to justice of the peace.” The columnist concludes by calling for judicial reform, since “when it comes to handing somebody the power to pick deep pockets legally or order jail time or even impose a death sentence, I want to know something more about them than where they went to law school or how high they finished in their class.” Arnold Garcia Jr., Do You Know Who Your Judges Are? Maybe You Should Find Out, Austin American-Statesman, September 14, 2002.
Editorial argues that the Texas Legislature should, in its next session, begin “to move Texas away from a judicial election system tainted by big money, conflicts and political partisanship.” Noting that “Texas is one of only four states that still elect the entire judiciary by partisan vote,” the editorial asserts that “Texas is long