Court Reform Enters the Post-Caperton Era
33 Pages Posted: 21 May 2010
Date Written: May 21, 2010
This Article considers the significant state court reform developments in the year following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., as well as ancillary federal developments, including renewed congressional interest in judicial disqualification. Picking up on the author’s view that “paradoxically for a decision overturning a state justice’s non-recusal, the majority’s approach is a model of cooperative federalism,” the Article focuses primarily on the initial developments pertaining to money in the courts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and West Virginia in the short period since the decision. The Article notes that while recusal practices have certainly been one focal point of developments in the states, Caperton has also provided a significant boost to judicial public financing. After considering tangible developments in the three identified states, the Article briefly points to more nascent judicial independence efforts in other states, in which Caperton connections are less direct, but where the case is nonetheless figuring prominently in rejuvenated efforts to modify judicial selection practices. The Article asserts that, while not all of the post-Caperton developments have improved the judicial impartiality landscape, on balance, the decision is already producing meaningful improvements in protecting the courts from the influence of money.
Keywords: judicial disqualification, recusal, public financing, First Amendment, election law, campaign finance
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