Common Cause hails New Mexico’s passage of public funding for judicial races

Common Cause commends the New Mexico Legislature and Gov. Bill Richardson for respectively passing and signing into law legislation that will extend the state’s voluntary public financing system to candidates for its two top courts. New Mexico joins North Carolina as the two states leading the nation in reforming judicial elections though publicly funded elections.

“With judicial races becoming increasingly fueled by major campaign contributors, New Mexico is taking a major step to ensure that its judicial system is fair, impartial and untainted by big special interest money,” said Jon Goldin Dubois, executive vice president of Common Cause.

Common Cause led the campaign to pass this important legislation and worked with a coalition of civic groups in New Mexico.

Common Cause also led efforts to enact judicial public financing in North Carolina in 2002. Voters and candidates alike have praised the system for easing fundraising pressure on judicial candidates, reducing the potential for conflicts of interest and reducing special interest money in judicial races. Other states considering judicial public financing include Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Montana and Wisconsin. Legislation to establish a study commission on judicial public financing in Washington is also under consideration.

According to the national nonpartisan organization Justice At Stake, since 2000, candidates for state Supreme Courts have combined to raise over $156 million. In 18 of the 22 states that use contestable elections to choose high court judges, candidate fundraising has topped $1 million in at least one cycle since 2000. Many states are now seeing recurring million-dollar battles as partisans and interest groups seek to install their preferred candidates on the bench.