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PA Justices Spend More Than $315,000 in Contentious Judicial Retention Races

In the face of politicized anti-retention efforts, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices used television advertisements to help keep their seats in what are generally considered low-key judicial retention races.

November 8, 2013

Pennsylvania Justices Spent More Than $315,000 in TV Ads in Contentious Judicial Retention Races

Contact: Seth Hoy at (646) 292-8369 or seth.hoy@nyu.edu or Laurie Kinney at (202) 588-9454 or lkinney@justiceatstake.org

New York, NY – In the face of politicized anti-retention efforts, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices used television advertisements to help keep their seats in what are generally considered low-key judicial retention races.

Chief Justice Ron Castille and Justice Max Baer shelled out an estimated $317,500 on TV advertisements in support of their campaigns, according to Kantar Media/CMAG estimates released by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake. Chief Justice Castille spent an estimated $66,000 while Justice Baer spent an estimated $251,500. Both Justices retained their seats — Chief Justice Castille with 68 percent of the vote and Justice Baer with 71 percent.

Before Election Day, the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC issued a press release urging Pennsylvanians to vote against both justices for not upholding the state's Voter ID Law in a 2012 ruling. Pennsylvania group Rock the Capital also campaigned against Chief Justice Castille, publishing a list of the top 10 reasons to oppose his retention, including poor judicial temperament, leasing a luxury car at taxpayer expense, and exercising political favoritism.

Judicial retention races have become increasingly politicized in recent years, according to a recent report by the Brennan Center for Justice, Justice at Stake and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. In 2012, retention battles in Florida and Iowa saw prominent and politically charged challenges to sitting justices. Although Justice were ultimately retained, they were embattled in costly retention battles.

See the TV ads here.

TV Methodology

All data on ad airings and spending on ads are calculated and prepared by Kantar Media/CMAG, which captures satellite data in the nation’s largest media markets. CMAG’s estimates do not reflect ad agency commissions or the costs of producing advertisements, nor do they reflect the cost of ad buys on local cable channels. Cost estimates are revised by the firm when it receives updated data, resulting in some fluctuations in the reported costs.

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UPDATE: After this press release was issued on November 8, 2013, Kantar Media/CMAG decreased its estimates for total TV spending in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race. CMAG’s data editing process may take between three to four months, and estimated spending totals may change during this process. The figures, last updated March 26, 2014, are as follows: $205,490 in estimated total spending. Estimated spending by Justice Castille: $47,250. Estimated spending by Justice Baer: $158,240.