For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998–6736
BUYING TIME 2004: Judicial Campaign Ad Spending Breaks 2000 Record
Total Spending This Year on Television Advertising Nears $12 Million
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, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia. 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 October 24, 2004
With a Week Until the Election, TV Ad Spending Hits New Record: Expenditures on airtime have hit their highest level since the Brennan Center began tracking Supreme Court television advertising in 2000. At approximately $12 million, total spending this year on television advertising for Supreme Court campaigns now exceeds the 2000 record of $10.6 millionand there is still a week to go until the election. In the past week, TV airtime spending in Ohio more than doubled from $1.3 million to $3.1 million, and spending in Illinois has also topped the $3 million mark. Although general election ads have been airing in Alabama only for the past week, television advertising expenditures in the state now surpass $2 million. Almost $4 million was spent on airtime in the one week from Oct. 17 until Oct. 24, and we can expect spending in the last week of the election season to be even higher.
Ads in IL Come Dangerously Close to Commitments: Candidate-sponsored ads in Illinois are walking a fine line between signaling the candidates views and committing him to decide tort cases in favor of defendants. Most state judicial ethics rules prohibit judicial candidates from committing, pledging, promising, or appearing to commit to rule a certain way on issues that may come before them on the bench. The Illinois ads state that the candidate will use common sense . . . to help fix this [healthcare] crisis, which is allegedly caused by trial lawyers that file those frivolous lawsuits. “Advertisements with thinly veiled commitments to make policy decisions on the bench further erode public confidence in the impartiality of our courts,” said Deborah Goldberg, Democracy Program Director at the Brennan Center.
Attack Ads Spreading to New States: Michigan and Kentucky are now experiencing attack ads in their state Supreme Court elections, joining ranks with Illinois and West Virginia, whose advertising has hit new lows this year. Attack ads, mostly targeting incumbent justices, now account for almost a quarter of state Supreme Court television ad spots. In Michigan, the ad by Citizens for Judicial Reform alleges that incumbent Justice Steve Markman was appointed in secret, on orders of the insurance industry and large corporations. In Kentucky, which is experiencing negative ads in a judicial campaign for the first time, multiple ads by challenger Will T. Scott accuse incumbent Justice Janet Stumbo of siding with criminal defendants. In response to the vicious ads in Illinois and West Virginia, these states bar associations have issued public reprimands to their respective candidates, reminding them that their campaign tactics endanger the integrity of the judicial branch.
Reports (Data Current Through October 24, 2004)
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/.