Litigation Clearinghouse Aims to Keep Courts Fair

Fair Courts Litigation

A coalition of legal groups concerned about protecting courts from the influences of money and partisan politics launched a website yesterday, Fair Courts Litigation, that is intended to track litigation that could impact the fairness and impartiality of court systems. The site will serve as a clearinghouse of litigation anywhere in the United States that implicates any of four issues:

  • Ethical rules designed to promote the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
  • Financing of judicial elections.
  • Judicial campaign conduct.
  • The use of nonpartisan merit commissions to screen judicial nominees.

As of today, the site is tracking three current cases — a challenge to a Montana statute prohibiting political parties from endorsing, contributing to, and spending money in support of judicial candidates; a Supreme Court challenge to the federal aggregation contribution limit, which the site says could have implications for state judicial elections; and an Arizona separation-of-powers lawsuit involving the state’s Commission on Appellate Court Appointments.

In addition to tracking current cases, the site provides synopses of previously decided cases involving these issues.

The coalition that launched the site, called the Fair Courts Litigation Task Force,  is composed of the American Judicature Society,  the Brennan Center for Justice, Justice at Stake,  the National Center for State Courts and The Campaign Legal Center.