With over $5 million dollars spent towards the only open seat on the Alabama Supreme Court, our state reportedly had the most expensive high court race this year. As a result of the money spent in his home state as well as other states, the current American Bar Association President and local Birmingham attorney H. Thomas Wells Jr. recently released the following press release:
ABA President H. Thomas Wells Jr. Decries Expensive 2008 State Judicial Races, Offers New Support for State Courts
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 6, 2008 – We need courts that are fair and impartial in order to have equal treatment under the law and protect our personal freedoms. Fair and impartial courts are threatened in states such as Alabama, my home and the site of this year’s most expensive state supreme court race. In states like these, the system sets up its judges to rely on campaign contributions from interests that argue before the courts.
Judges should be accountable to the law and the Constitution, not the whims of the day or to popular public opinion. We urge citizens in states under the grip of increasingly costly court races to band together and find solutions that remove the potential influence of money from our courts.
One of the ways in which the ABA is mobilizing to better support state courts is by organizing the Summit on Fair and Impartial State Courts, scheduled for May 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Each state supreme court chief justice is being asked to form a delegation that represents the state’s supreme court, legislature, and executive branch, bar associations and non-governmental citizen organizations. This diverse, national group of leaders will collaborate on plans for promoting fair and impartial courts that are empowered to serve the public. The summit will highlight strategies for good inter-branch relations, so that courts have the resources they need to provide fair and impartial resolution of disputes.