On today's BradCast: While the national media is obsessed with Trump, a record amount of dark money from undisclosed corporate sources is being spent on judicial elections at state Supreme Courts. Also: A whole lotta other breaking news today, from a new development in the Hillary Clinton email probe, to some white, armed hooligan wingnuts getting off the hook for an armed federal takeover, to one U.S. Senator likely killing his own re-election chances during a debate last night. [Audio link to complete show posted below.]
On today's interview, Alicia Bannon, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, joins us to explain the flood of outside spending from corporate, dark money sources now pouring in to state Supreme Court elections around the country, as detailed in her new analysis published this week. We also discuss the disturbingly increasing politicization of judicial elections and why it is that judges are selected by elections at all in some 38 states.
"Around the country, we've been seeing these elections become higher cost, more politicized, and attracting a lot of special interest attention," she tells me. And that's worrying, because, among other reasons, "a judge needs to be deciding cases based on their understanding of what the law requires and the facts that are in front of them, and not out of fears of what that's going to mean for fundraising in the next election cycle, or what's going to be the subject of their next attack ad."
While judicial elections "were actually a reform measure," when originally introduced in the 19th century because "there was a concern that those judges were too closely aligned with the political branches," Bannon explains, in the wake of Citizens United and other measures that have increased the flow of money into politics, judicial elections, "are putting even more pressure on judges because of the money involved and the conflicts of interest that get created."
We go on to discuss a number of such judicial conflicts of interests, from the remarkable case of the state Supreme Court in Wisconsin to the election that will determine the balance of the Supreme Court in North Carolina next week, to the judicial campaign being funded in no small part by fossil fuel interests in Louisiana, where the same corporate funders are facing legacy environmental cases to be decided by the very same court.
Bannon, who also clerked for Sondra Sotomayor when she was an appellate judge on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, also shares a bit of personal insight on the U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
Also today: The FBI notifies the U.S. Senate that they have found some additional emails in a separate investigation that may relate to their probe of Hillary Clinton's email server and the cable "news" industry predictably freaks out; The Bundy Brothers are acquitted at trial, for some reason, after their six-week armed takeover of a federal wildlife facility in Oregon earlier this year; Donald Trump fails to put up the $100 million he had promised to his own campaign; and Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk (R) offers an outrageously obnoxious racial slur during a debate with his opponent, double-amputee Iraq War veteran Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D)...
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