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Pro-Business Groups Dominate Airwaves in 2006 Supreme Court Campaigns

October 13, 2006

For Immediate Release

Friday, October 13, 2006

Contact Information:
James Sample, Brennan Center for Justice, 212–992–8648
Jesse Rutledge, Justice at Stake, 202–588–9454

Pro-Business Groups Dominate Airwaves
in 2006 Supreme Court Campaings
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Candidates Round Out
Top Five Spenders

New York, NY Pro-business groups are this years biggest spenders on TV ads in Supreme Court races nationwide, announced two national watchdog groups. Two groups with strong ties to the U.S. Chamber of Commercethe American Taxpayers Alliance in Alabama and the Partnership for Ohios Futurerank among the top five biggest television advertisers in judicial elections in the country. Its Time for a Change, a Washington State group affiliated with the Washington Building Industry Association, ranked fifth. Chief Justice Drayton Nabers and Judge Sue Bell Cobb, candidates vying for Alabamas Supreme Court Chief Justice seat, round out the top five.

The American Taxpayers Alliance, which refuses to disclose its donors but has been funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the past, spent $993,080 on television ads for their preferred candidates in Alabamas June Republican primary, the most of any group in the nation. One ad supporting incumbent Justice Lyn Stuart urged voters to learn more about how Lyn Stuart stands up for our conservative pro-family principles.

The Partnership for Ohios Future, which shares a mailing address and has key overlapping staff members with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, has spent $874,396 to run two ads, one supporting Republican Judge Robert Cupp, and another supporting incumbent Justice Terrence ODonnell. The advertisement supporting Cupp states: Bob Cupp is a man of principle who led the fight against liberal activists to preserve Ohios motto, With God, all things are possible.

Much of the advertising being sponsored by pro-business groups is focusing on values rather than economic issues, a dynamic that illustrates the value of disclosure rules that allow voters to figure out who is actually behind the advertising, said James Sample, associate counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

When special interests dominate judicial election campaigns, then show up in court to collect on their investment, Americans fear that justice is for sale, said Bert Brandenburg, executive director of the Justice at Stake Campaign. Every state that elects judges needs to take serious steps to combat special interest justice, including nonpartisan voter guides to help citizens pick judges based on solid information instead of sound bites. Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center support non-partisan, impartial judicial voter guides.

In Alabama, home of Junes contentious Republican primary between incumbent Chief Justice Drayton Nabers and Tom Parker, the campaign for Chief Justice, is continuing to draw big money and heavy television advertising. Chief Justice Nabers candidate committee ranks as the second largest sponsor of television advertising nationwide, so far spending a total of $882,656, including both the primary and general elections. Nabers opponent in the general election, Sue Bell Cobb, has spent $578,870 on TV ads since September 15, compared to the $227,259 Nabers has spent in the same time period.

The campaign for Alabamas Chief Justice is this years race to watch, said Sample. The primary race between Chief Justice Drayton Nabers and Justice Tom Parker made headlines for its mudslinging, and race between Nabers and Cobb looks likely to be the most expensive in the nation.