Kia Franklin

Editorial on Caperton case

Thought I'd point out this editorial about the Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. case, for which the Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this month. At issue is whether a judge was obligated to recuse himself from a case, when one of the parties had spent millions of dollars to affect the outcome of the judge's campaign. The author of the editorial argues that "if the justices condone this travesty, they will be letting the well-heeled place their ingots of gold on justice's scale."

The big donor in the case, CEO Don Blankenship, had supported West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin's candidacy against an incumbent Democrat, including:

"$1,000 donated directly to Benjamin's campaign, some $516,000 in payments to media outlets for television and newspaper advertisement in opposition to the incumbent, and nearly $2.5 million to a group called "And for the Sake of Kids," set up to oppose Benjamin's opponent. Altogether, Blankenship's spending accounted for more than 60 percent of the nearly $5 million spent to promote Benjamin's election."

Justice Benjamin won his election and ultimately cast the deciding vote in Blankenship's case, with a 3-2 ruling in Blankenship's favor.

The folks at the Brennan Center have covered this case extensively here. One to watch. The Supreme Court will rule on the case this summer.

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 8:28 PM, Mar 25, 2009 in Judicial Elections | Supreme Court Rulings
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This does this concern also apply to judges "purchased" by the plaintiff bar (of which there are many) or only those "purchased" by business.

While I believe in democracy (something I doubt about this website, given their support of card check and doing away with secret ballots in union elections) selection of judges is one realm I would rather see be done via appointments rather than direct election

Posted by: Avenger | March 26, 2009 7:25 AM

Although, the Court has ruled that contributions are protected by the First Amendment, I would love it if it declared a duty to recuse oneself after a donation related to the matter of the trial.

That would serve as a tool of disqualification of just about all elected judges, including state high appellate judges. Their constituency is not the public, but the lawyers of both sides, and their rent seeking interests.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | March 27, 2009 6:56 AM