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Money in state judicial races

The National Institute on Money in State Politics has issued a study of the campaign contributions to judicial candidates for the Louisiana, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Montana Supreme Courts and the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The summary of the Alabama study states:

In the three election cycles examined in this study, 19 individuals seeking the nine Supreme Court positions available from 1994 through 1998 raised $18.4 million. • Overall, political parties were the largest source of campaign funds for these partisan races, contributing $6.3 million, or 34 percent of the total raised by all candidates. • Attorneys, law firms and legal PACs contributed nearly $4 million, about 22 percent of the total raised. • Other business interests gave 32 percent of the funds, about $5.86 million. • Fewer than half the candidates contributed to their own campaigns, giving only $119,000, less than 1 percent of the total. • A total of 904 cases, or 63 percent of the 1,424 cases decided during the study period, involved a party or attorney who contributed to a Supreme Court Justice before that Justice ruled on the contributor’s case. About 9 percent of all litigants contributed to a Justice before a case decision by that Justice; they accounted for 7 percent of the 8,374 contributors named in campaign-finance reports and gave $1.58 million, less than 9 percent of the total money.