Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Conservatives Try to Buy State Supreme Court

Excellent article in the Seattle PI this morning regarding a race for the State Supreme Court. It details the race between current Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and a puppet of conservative interest groups - John Groen.

To briefly summarize the article, the State Legislature passed a law that took effect June 7th which limited campaign contributions for judicial candidates to $2,800. Gerry Alexander, acknowledging the reasoning behind the law and its benefit, agreed to follow those rules even prior to them being put into effect. His opponent accepted nine donations between $10,000 and $25,000 right up until the law took effect.

Legal? Sure. But think of it like environmental regulations - shouldn't companies comply with beneficial regulations even before the government gains the power to enforce them? Would it be right for a company to dump every last ounce of chemicals into a river the day before it became illegal to do so? Of course not. Massive amounts of money donated from interest groups to judicial candidates have a similar polluting effect. The Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) has provided the primary backing of Groen's campaign - if he wants to be reelected he needs their support, and to get their support, he knows how he'll have to rule. The Association knows it too and they're trying to buy a vote on the State Supreme Court. In fact, they're trying to buy several votes, as the article demonstrates.

So who is this BIAW? They're hardly new to the political scene. In fact, they're essentially a front group for hard-line conservatives. Last year they considered an anti-union initiative in Washington (don't assume the issue is dead...); they poured money into electing Rossi and then into overturning the gubernatorial election results; they even sued over the inclusion of Orcas of the Endangered Species list. Here's a profile from detailing their direct donations.

I have zero doubt that this will be a scary election for the State Supreme Court. The conservatives have their ill-gotten money and are enlisting large numbers of volunteers. Get involved! Learn more about Chief Justice Alexander and Justice Susan Owens, spread the word to support their campaigns and, by extension, the integrity of the state's legal system. If you can donate, do!

1 comment:

srcastic said...

I'm sorry I didn't see your post sooner.

While the contributions may be legal, they are certainly of questionable ethics. The influence that such discrete interest groups can have by electing an underqualified justice to the Supreme Court is quite frightening.