You are hereRAW Story: Exclusive: Business groups poised to turn judges into ‘politicians in robes’

RAW Story: Exclusive: Business groups poised to turn judges into ‘politicians in robes’

Illinois is ground zero for new tactic underwritten by Chamber of Commerce, manufacturing lobby

November 2, 2010- Campaign donations to members of Congress from secret donors and foreign investors are grabbing headlines this election season.

But in a new twist in judicial elections this year, business groups are targeting judges over single-issue rulings – from overturning medical malpractice limits to upholding gay marriage – in retention races that were originally designed to limit the influence of special interest money.

If this exploitation of retention elections is successful, it could lead to a whole new tsunami of special interest spending in judicial races across the nation, according to a nonpartisan partnership that works to protect courts from special-interest influence.

Ground zero for this offensive is the retention campaign of Illinois State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride.

In February 2010, Justice Kilbride ruled as part of a 4-2 majority to overturn limits on medical malpractice awards. Though it was the third time the court had taken such a position, Kilbride’s term was winding down and business groups saw a vulnerable opening, Charles Hall of Justice at Stake explained during a two-part interview with Raw Story last week.

Justice at Stake describes itself as "a nonpartisan campaign with more than 50 national partners, working to keep state and federal courts fair and impartial." It's funded by, among other sources, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Institute.

The combined fundraising in the Illinois campaign of more than $3.1 million, received mostly from national business groups seeking Kilbride’s ouster on the one side and plaintiffs’ lawyers on the other, has exceeded spending on all retention elections in the United States over the entire previous decade.



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