Editorial, in considering the pending Texas Supreme Court elections, welcomes an upcoming conference of state Supreme Court Chief Justices to discuss judicial campaign finance reform. (See Court Pester, September 12.) The editorial laments that “Supreme Court races in Texas have long been costly affairs, with large contributions from those interests with cases before the court.” It labels the plan of the Texas Association of Business and Chambers of Commerce to spend $100,000 in support of its endorsed candidates “another unwelcome symptom of the judicial-election sickness infecting Texas.” The editorial concludes that “Texas is ample proof that the partisan election of judges undermine the dignity of, and public confidence in, state courts. The chief justices and elected officials [who will attend the conference] are to be commended for trying to change the system that won them their jobs.” Restoring Confidence in the Courts, Austin- American Statesman, September 27, 2000.
Article reports that Citizens for Independent Courts, a bipartisan organization, has initiated a nation-wide effort to restore decorum to state judicial elections. In Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas, the group has asked judicial candidates to pledge to follow the “Higher Ground Standards of Conduct.” The standards require candidates to refrain from voicing opinions on issues that might appear before them if elected, to make public the sources of campaign contributions within five days of donation, and to take responsibility for all advertisements made on their behalf. Virginia E. Sloan, executive director of the Constitution Project, which sponsors Citizens for Independent Courts, states that “We are trying to create an environment where it’s safe for candidates to say, I can’t tell you where I stand on issues that might come before me.” William Glaberson, A Bipartisan Effort to Remove Politics from Judicial Races, New York Times, October 23, 2000.
24. Article reports that “interest groups -- and their campaign cash -- are changing the nature of judicial elections in America.” It cites a recent study finding that 60% of Texas Supreme Court decisions involved donors to the Justices’ campaigns as either parties or attorneys, and that 49% of state judges, 79% of Texas attorneys, and 83% of Texans believed that campaign contributions have “a significant influence” on judicial decisions. Samantha Sanchez, of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, asserts, “There are political consultants who can come to your state and set up a ‘take over the supreme court’ operation for you.” Brenda Wright of the National Voting Rights Institute opines that the trend “just reflects the growing culture of money-saturated politics.” Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor, Justice for Sale? Cash Pours into Campaigns, Warren Richey, October 25, 2000.
25. Op-ed by Michele Petty, a San Antonio attorney, charges that the Justices of the Texas Supreme Court “just don’t see all people as having the same intrinsic