CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS IN JUDICIAL ELECTIONS: SEPARATING MONEY FROM THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
AbstractThis thesis examines campaign contributions in judicial elections. Increasing campaign costs have created a perception that judges’ decisions may be biased by the contributions they receive. Regardless of actual bias, perceived bias is enough to warrant concern because it threatens the legitimacy of the judiciary. Though money presents a problem for the judiciary, elections serve as a beneficial method of selecting judges. Additionally, money is an important aspect in elections and cannot simply be eliminated. Publicly funded elections have been proposed to counteract the problem; however, the findings in this thesis demonstrate that they are no longer a viable option. Recent court cases and a lack of funding have made publicly funded elections unworkable. Instead, this paper proposes a system of judicial disqualification. Disqualifying judges who have a perceived bias due to contributions eliminates the threat to legitimacy.The proposal also takes this decision out of the judge’s hands and allows an independent panel to decide possible bias. The paper demonstrates the ability of a disqualification system to eliminate the negative effects of contributions without harming the positives associated with elections.