For Immediate Release
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998–6736
BUYING TIME 2004: Interest Groups Spend over $500,000 on Judicial Election Attack Ads
New Focus Is on Entire State Supreme Courts
New York, NY—During the 2004 election season, the Brennan Center for Justice is releasing weekly real-time reports on television advertising in state Supreme Court elections. These reports, to be released every Wednesday through November 10, will analyze campaign advertising by candidates, political parties, and interest groups.
This report includes information from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia. Elections are complete in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Oregon. The report provides information about who is advertising and how often, the estimated cost of the airtime, and the tone and content of those advertisements.
Cumulative Report Through September 26, 2004
New States with Television Advertising Break Record of 2002: Kentucky is the newest state to see television advertising in its state Supreme Court elections for the first time, bringing the total number of new states with advertising this election season to six. As of September 26, approximately $1.3 million has already been spent in the new states: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, and West Virginia, even though general election campaigns have just begun. The spending in new states, which accounts for almost one-third of the total television advertising costs so far in 2004, is a leap from the $920,000 spent by new states by the end of the 2002 election season.
Interest Groups Running More Attack Ads: As usual, special interest groups are sponsoring most of the attack ads airing in Supreme Court elections. What is different this year is that some of the ads are attacking current Courts as a whole, rather than individual incumbent justices. Ads in Illinois, West Virginia, and now Ohio are claiming that state Supreme Courts decisions favoring plaintiffs in civil suits are forcing doctors to relocate and scaring away jobs. State Chambers of Commerce and professional organizations are sponsoring most of these ads, spending more than $500,000. Interest group advertising attacking individual candidates exceeds $200,000.
These ads make it clear that interest groups are trying to influence decision-making by Supreme Courts. There is no longer even a pretense of concern about impartiality or fairness, says Deborah Goldberg Democracy Program Director at the Brennan Center for Justice. What these groups want is results. Qualifications are merely icing.
Completed Judicial Races: Over half a million dollars has been spent in the four states that have completed their final Supreme Court elections. Advertising in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Oregon ranged from approximately $88,000 in Louisiana to roughly $216,000 in Georgia. In Arkansas and Louisiana, winning candidates spent more than twice the amount of losing candidates. In Georgia and Oregon, advertising was sponsored exclusively by the winning incumbent justice.
The Brennan Centers analyses of television advertising in state Supreme Court elections use data obtained from a commercial firm that records each ad via satellite. The firm provides information about the location, dates, frequency, and estimated costs of each ad. Brennan Center researchers use the storyboards video captures of the ad at four-second intervals, with complete audio text to code the ads, documenting the content, tone, and other relevant information. Cost estimates are revised by the firm when it receives updated data, resulting in some fluctuations in the reported costs. The calculation does not include the costs of design and production, so cost estimates substantially understate the actual cost of advertising.
For More Information
Buying Time 2004 reports, including links to the storyboards, are available at: http://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/buying-time-2004. The reports will also be included in the Justice at Stake 2004 Supreme Court Elections Real Time Tracking Project (www.justiceatstake.org) along with information about candidate fundraising and special interest activity.
For more information, please contact Natalia Kennedy at the Brennan Center at 212–998–6736 or visit http://www.brennancenter.org/. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law develops and implements a non-partisan agenda of scholarship, public education, and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity, while safeguarding fundamental freedoms.
For additional information about the Center’s work to promote fair and impartial courts, please visit: Fair Courts.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, founded in 1995, unites thinkers and advocates in pursuit of a vision of inclusive and effective democracy. Its mission is to develop and implement an innovative, nonpartisan agenda of scholarship, public education, and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity, while safeguarding fundamental freedoms.
Please visit http://www.brennancenter.org/.