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Campaign Contributions May Disqualify Judges–Unequal Access to Courts in Michigan

June 8, 2009
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Image by vaXzine via Flickr

Okay, okay, I didn’t write immediately in the morning last week and my whole schedule has been off. I have been working to write about the ways Michigan has been violating Constitutional rights by not allowing the poor access to courts, and I mentioned I was going to start looking into campaign contributions.  Guess what, so are other people.  Imagine, it just doesn’t make for good justice when you have to pay to get it (and haven’t I been saying that for a while) but now the Supreme Court is backing me on this one.

According to a Yahoo news article, the Supreme Court has ruled that judges who have received substantial funding to their campaigns from certain industry groups may not be able to rule on cases in which their pet industry has fed their election aspirations:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions from interested parties create the appearance of bias.

By a 5-4 vote in a case from West Virginia, the court said that a judge who remained involved in a lawsuit filed against the company of the most generous supporter of his election deprived the other side of the constitutional right to a fair trial.

“Just as no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, similar fears of bias can arise when — without the consent of the other parties — a man chooses the judge in his own cause,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court.

Now, that whole mention about how I was checking out campaign contributions?  Well, that much is now a given.  Hopefully, we won’t hit too many roadblocks in looking up this information.  If  anyone has any ideas on ways to speed up the research, I would love to hear them.  Off to press my nose to the grindstone.  Campaign contributions, here I come!

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