Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct Committee

As a public service, the Tennessee Bar Association works to help assure that judicial elections are conducted in a manner that will maintain confidence in our judiciary.

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Nashville, TN 37219

Supreme Court Amends the Code of Judicial Conduct

Responding to suggestions from the TBA and a committee of judges , the Tennessee Supreme Court today amended the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct regarding judges and judicial candidates’ election campaign conduct. Among other changes, the rules now make it more clear that judges and judicial candidates are permitted to endorse other judges; explicitly allow judges to seek, accept or use endorsements from any person or organization; permit judges to speak on behalf of his or her candidacy through any medium, including but not limited to advertisements, websites, or other campaign literature; and, clarify the prohibition on judges simultaneously seeking judicial and non juridical office. The TBA made recommendations for four changes based upon the experience with the new rules during the 2014 election. As urged by the TBA, the Court did not change the standard for disqualification based on campaign contributions or support, and it turned back changes to the treatment of affiliation with organizations that practice invidious discrimination. Read the order here

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Special Interest Groups Dominate Spending in Judicial Elections

Special-interest groups accounted for a record-high 29 percent of total spending in state Supreme Court races in the 2013-14 election cycle, according to a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice. “As special-interest groups continue to pump money into judicial races, Americans are rightfully questioning whether campaign cash influences courtroom decisions,” said Alicia Bannon, senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. The report also found that lawyers and lobbyists were the largest donors to Supreme Court candidates – collectively responsible for 63 percent of donations.

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