A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Mudslinging in Arkansas Judicial Race

An outside group with a history of running dubious ads in judicial races claims Tim Cullen, a candidate for the Arkansas Supreme Court, argued in a legal brief “that child pornography was a ‘victimless crime.’ ” Not exactly.

Massey’s Mining Money

The West Virginia coal mining disaster that took more than two dozen lives this week brought Massey Energy Corp., the nation’s fourth largest coal company, into the spotlight. The company and its CEO, Don Blankenship, have never been shy about involvement in the political process. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Massey’s political action committee plus individuals associated with the commpany have given more than $307,000 in all to federal candidates since the 1990 election cycle.

New Round of Sotomayor Ads Begins

Independent groups are taking to the airwaves to weigh in on the debate over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, whose confirmation hearings began July 13 in the Senate. The liberal Change Campaign Committee and Hispanic group Presente.org are airing a Spanish-language radio ad in Florida. The groups also posted the ad, with a translation and some video, on YouTube:

Two versions of the ad take Republican Reps. John Mica and Adam Putnam to task for not denouncing the words of radio host Rush Limbaugh,

Supremely Civil Ads … So Far

Both the Coalition for Constitutional Values, a liberal group supporting Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative organization that opposes President Obama’s choice, have ads up attempting to enhance or undermine her confirmation prospects. The ads are accurate and civil. JCN’s spot, which …

The Case of the Sleeping Justice

Another election, another set of bare-fisted battles for state Supreme Court seats. Think the presidential campaign ads were uncivil and misleading? Well…they were. But so were those put on the air by judicial candidates and their backers, who no longer blink at spending in the millions of dollars. Final tallies aren’t in yet, but in the last week before Nov. 4, $5 million was spent on ads in these races, more than in 2006, according to figures compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Judge’s Attack Ad Draws Complaint

Last spring’s Supreme Court race in Wisconsin featured some ugly ads, so ugly that we wrote about the false or misleading claims in them several times. Now, one of the worst of those spots (in our humble opinion) is the subject of a complaint by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. The proceedings could alter the tenor of ads used in Wisconsin court races.
The ad was sponsored by the campaign of a lower court judge, Mike Gableman,

Winning Ugly in Wisconsin

In a Wisconsin throwdown, incumbent Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler narrowly lost his reelection bid after being hit with a barrage of deceptive attack ads. We’ve written about some of them in recent weeks.
Attack ads targeting the incumbent heavily outnumbered attacks aimed at the business-backed winner, Circuit Court Judge Mike Gableman. In the closing days of the campaign the ratio was roughly 2 to 1.
A misleading attack ad that ran hundreds of times implied that the incumbent overturned a murder conviction despite overwhelming evidence of the convicted man’s guilt.

Wisconsin Judgment Day, the Sequel

In this second of our “Court Watch” series, we return to what’s become a racially charged campaign in Wisconsin to replace Louis Butler, the only black justice on the state Supreme Court, with a white, business-backed lower court judge, Mike Gableman. We look at two ads that attack Butler and find both to be misleading.

Judgment Day in Wisconsin


Some of the hardest fought campaigns in 2008 will be to determine who sits on the highest courts in a number of states, courts where the stakes can be billions of dollars for corporations and insurance companies; millions in fees for trial lawyers; compensation for those who have been injured by negligence; or the liberty of individuals who have been convicted, rightly or wrongly, of crimes. In the past, some of those who would be state supreme court judges,

Warring Ads in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

The April 3 face-off between county Judge Annette Ziegler and attorney Linda Clifford for a seat on the state’s highest court has spawned a springtime blizzard of negative ads in the milk-fed Midwest.