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There is a solution, you just don’t see it

Sen. John Cornyn, apparently with some free time on his hands, takes his turn tackling the pernicious issue of Democrats winning judicial races – er, the problem of partisan judicial elections. I’ll give him credit for this much – he puts his finger on the main issue.

As the cost of political campaigns in Texas increases, particularly for those seeking statewide office, judicial candidates must spend more time raising funds from the narrow set of donors most interested in seeing them on the bench.

The demands of fundraising are especially corrosive for the judiciary. Campaigns for legislative or executive office typically are supported by a broad donor base with a wide variety of interests, making it less likely that the interests of one group will dominate to the disadvantage of the general public. Judicial elections, by contrast, are funded largely by the lawyers and other interest groups most likely to appear in court or be directly affected by judicial decisions.

But like his fellow alarmist Justice Wallace Jefferson, he doesn’t follow this trail of bread crumbs to the obvious solution, which is stricter campaign contribution limits for judicial candidates, plus a public finance system for judicial races. (He also doesn’t acknowledge the fact that the all-Republican Supreme Court, of which he was once a member, is one of the more egregious offenders on this score.) He doesn’t actually propose a solution, he just lists the usual suggestions, including appointment-and-retention (which as I’ve noted before would still have the same players getting involved) and making these elections non-partisan (ditto). It’s fascinating to see the same rather large blind spot, but when you think about it, it’s not surprising. After all, once you realize what problem it is that they’re trying to solve, then their proposed solutions make sense.

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