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Protecting Due Process Amidst Judicial Fundraising


This seems like an appropriate solution to Supreme Court decisions preventing restrictions on judicial fundraising:

New York’s top court officials will bar the state’s hundreds of elected judges from hearing cases involving lawyers and others who make significant contributions to their campaigns, a move that will change the political culture of courts and transform judicial elections by removing an important incentive lawyers have for contributing.

The four dissenters in the recent Caperton case — the Court’s four most conservative members, of course, saw no due process problems with a judge hearing a case when he had received more than $3 million in campaign contributions from one of the parties — made a big deal about how the rules the opinion established were insufficiently clear. But if we need a bright-line rule, what’s wrong with “if a judge has received campaign contributions from a party, she may not hear the case?” People will still have the 1st Amendment right to make campaign contributions, and there’s no 1st Amendment right to distort the judicial process for your own direct personal gain.

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