State judicial elections are governed by a unique set of rules that enforce longstanding norms of judicial independence by limiting how judicial candidates campaign. These rules have been a key part of recent debates over judicial elections and have been the subject of several U.S. Supreme Court cases.
Regulating Judicial Elections provides the first accounting of the efficacy and consequences of such rules. C. Scott Peters re-frames debates over judicial elections by shifting away from all-or-nothing claims about threats to judicial independence and focusing instead on the trade-offs inherent in our checks and balances system. In doing so, he is able to examine the costs and benefits of state ethical restrictions. Peters finds that while some parts of state codes of conduct achieve their desired goals, others may backfire and increase the politicization of judicial elections. Moreover, modest gains in the protection of independence come at the expense of the effectiveness of elections as accountability mechanisms. These empirical findings will inform ongoing normative debates about judicial elections.
Table of Contents
List of Tables and Figure
1. Introduction: Campaigning for Justice
2. Independence and Accountability: The Two-Sided Coin Protecting the Rule of Law
3. The Code of Judicial Conduct and Its Adoption by the States
4. The Canons of Ethics and Candidate Advertising
5. The Canons of Ethics and Interest Group Advertising
6. Protecting Independence or Protecting Incumbents?
7. Conclusion: Toward a Framework for Regulating Judicial Elections
C. Scott Peters is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa.
'Regulating Judicial Elections makes outstanding contributions to the scientific literature and the intense debate about electing judges in at least two ways: 1) by providing expertly drawn empirical evidence about the sometimes surprising effects of codes of judicial conduct on fundamental features of state supreme court elections, and 2) by advancing a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the traditional normative frames of judicial independence and accountability, including the potential for accountability to promote the rule of law. This exceptionally well crafted volume is a must-read for political scientists, legal scholars, and practitioners interested in elections and campaigns, judicial selection, and the impact of formal rules on practical politics.' - Melinda Gann Hall, Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University, Author of Attacking Judges: How Campaign Advertising Influences State Supreme Court Elections
'Peters examines an important—and understudied—topic: the effect of state codes of conduct on judicial elections. Through impressive data collection and persuasive analysis, this book demonstrates that the rules designed to regulate how judges campaign do have some effects, both on the nature of the campaigns and electoral outcomes. This important book is likely to be influential among both scholars and policymakers.' - Chris W. Bonneau, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh