NEW YORK - September 28 - A new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake reveals that special interest groups have spent $1,797,449 on television advertising to influence the outcomes of 2006 state Supreme Court campaigns through the end of September, a startling 69 percent jump over the same point in the 2004 election cycle. Two years ago, spending by special interest groups through September accounted for one quarter of television advertising expenditures in Supreme Court races. This year that figure has climbed to 39 percent.
Overall, total spending on television advertising for Supreme Court elections – which includes expenditures by the third party groups as well as political parties and the candidates themselves – is up by five percent from this point in the last election cycle. Candidates, special interest groups, and political parties have spent a total of $4,556,875 on television advertising for judicial elections this year. In the 2004 election, spending on broadcast television advertising smashed previous records, totaling $24.4 million. But that record will fall if advertising in the 2006 campaigns holds it current pace.
“Unlike politicians, judges do not represent concentrated or individual constituents. Rather, they are accountable to the Constitution and the law,” said James Sample, associate counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
An analysis by the Brennan Center and the Justice at Stake Campaign shows that 58 percent of the attack ads in the 2004 state Supreme Court campaigns nationwide were sponsored by outside groups (31 percent were paid for by a political party and only 11 percent by the candidates themselves). Of the eight unique advertisements run by special interest groups so far this year, six have attacked candidates.
“When special interests take to the airwaves to disparage judges for upholding the law, the fairness and impartiality of the judiciary is in danger,” said Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake.