Modal close

Hi there,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. This week Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else. Thank you! -Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.

Donate

The Continuing Politicization of the Legal System: Tort Reform, Big Money, and Judicial Elections

Default content image
Listen
Media Options
Listen

While some would like to think of the American legal system as an abstract bastion of pure justice, untainted by the corruption of politics, that has of course never been the case. The image of a judiciary above the political fray has always been just that: an image. Americans have always argued about the politicization of the justice system.

Now, in an election season that has seen a heightened discussion of the problems with the campaign finance system, there are signs all across the nation that the kinds of tactics long associated with presidential and congressional races are being deployed to sway the out comes of electoral contests for judgeships and attorneys general. According to an article by Emily Heller and Mark Ballard in this week’s National Law Journal, this year marks the first time that millions of dollars in soft money are being spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to run television commercials in some strategic races in states like Michigan, Mississippi, Indiana, and Ohio, commercials which attack sitting judges and candidates for elected legal positions. The Chamber of Commerce is seeking to elect judges who will rule favorably on tort reform, while unseating those they see as irresponsibly favoring litigation against commercial interests.

One of the most hotly contested state supreme court elections in the country is going on in Ohio, where incumbent State Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick has been accused of converting campaign contributions from plaintiffs’ trial lawyers and unions into favorable rulings from the bench for those groups. The accusations have been made in millions of dollars worth of political ads sponsored by Citizens For A Strong Ohio, a group closely linked to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and a strong advocate of tort reform.

The battle in that Ohio Supreme Court race has been joined by a coalition of labor unions, teachers, and lawyers called Citizens For An Independent Court, who advocate getting soft money out of the judicial races.

Guests:

  • Chip McConville, the Vice President of Citizens for a Strong Ohio, and also the Political Director of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
  • Randy Weston, spokesman for Citizens for an Independent Court and Associate Director of Ohio AFSCME United.
  • Joanne Doroshow, the Executive Director of The Center for Justice and Democracy, a national non-profit consumer group dedicating to keeping citizens apprised of issues affecting their rights.

Related Story

Video squareStoryMay 20, 2015Sgt. James Brown, 26, Survived Two Tours in Iraq Only to Die Begging for His Life in Texas Jail
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation
Up arrowTop