SCOTUS ruled yesterday that states could ban judicial candidates from soliciting campaign donations. The court split along ideological lines, with John Roberts joining the liberal side, for the majority opinion. While many are trumpeting this as a big win for campaign finance reform, I’m a little skeptical. Here’s what Roberts wrote for the majority:
“The State may conclude that judges, charged with exercising strict neutrality and independence, cannot supplicate campaign donors without diminishing public confidence in judicial integrity”
Now I totally agree with that, in a sense, but where I disagree is with the way Roberts is basically saying it’s find and dandy to have donors for other politics, and they can expect their donations to influence decision. This is a “pay for play” system that has been ruining our country for decades now. Then later in his decision, Robert admits that politicians are basically expected to do what their supports want:
Unlike a politician, who is expected to be appropriately responsive to the preferences of supporters, a judge in deciding cases may not follow the preferences of his supporters or provide any special consideration to his campaign donors
Roberts admits that politicians are expected to “provide any special consideration to his campaign donors.” And if that doesn’t sell you, remember Roberts is one of the justices that ruled to allow unlimited money to flow into campaigns.
This is not the democracy our founders anticipated or desired.