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

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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Florida’s Ban Stands: People Running for Judge Cannot Ask for Campaign Funds

In a 5-4 decision today in Williams Yulee v. The Florida State Bar, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ban on direct solicitation of campaign donations by judicial candidates. The case asked the court to consider a First Amendment challenge to a Florida rule that prohibits judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions. In her concurring opinion, Justice Ginsburg cited a poll commissioned by Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice noting that 87 percent of voters believe advertisements purchased by interest groups during judicial elections can have either “some” or “a great deal” of influence on an elected judge’s later decisions. "Today’s decision helps judges, by saving them from the compromising job of raising cash from people whose cases they will decide," Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said. "And it helps the public, by reassuring them that they will not find themselves in court before a judge who has received a check directly from the opposing party in their case.” American Bar Association President William C. Hubbard praised the ruling, saying it "underscores the importance of an independent judiciary to the rule of law."  SCOTUSBlog and ABA Journal have more.

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