Sunday, December 04, 2022

State Supreme Court race draws new attention amid disputes over redistribution

State Supreme Court race draws new attention amid disputes over redistribution

Among the top targets: Ohio and North Carolina, where several Supreme Court seats are on the ballot and judges have thrown maps in favor of Republicans.

“People used to think redistribution was once every 10 years, but now it’s a fight every cycle,” said Republican State Leadership Committee spokesman Andrew Romeo. Its judicial fairness initiative. “Every cycle, there are important Supreme Court races that are going to affect redistribution.”

The group said its spending would be above its previous record of more than $5 million in these races, though Romeo declined to disclose a specific budget.

“The increasing investment is a growing recognition of how powerful these courts are,” said Douglas Keith, an attorney at the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school.

justice on the ballot

Following the US Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that federal courts have no role in policing, redistribution fights – which can determine the balance of political power in the US House of Representatives and state legislatures – have been increasingly waged at the state level. Partisan Gerrymandering.
State high courts could also serve as the next frontier in other high-stakes lawsuits involving access to abortion in individual states, if the U.S. Supreme Court in its ruling in the Mississippi case last December cry v. Wade weakened.

Thirty-eight states use elections to choose who sits on their highest courts. And this year, 87 — or a quarter of the nation’s 344 state Supreme Court seats — are on the ballot in 32 states, according to Ballotpedia.

Expenses to influence these castes have skyrocketed in recent years.

A report from the Brennan Center co-authored by Keith earlier this year found that state and national spending in these contests rose to a record $97 million during the 2019-2020 election cycle.

According to the report, outside groups invested about $35 million in the race and in two states — Michigan and Wisconsin — excluded candidates themselves. Nationally, conservative interest groups outnumber liberal outside groups in the 2020 judicial contests, the analysis found.

In these low-profile contests, Keith said, “external interest groups with deep pockets can really dominate and replace the whole conversation around an election with an amount of[expenses]that would be incurred if you were to hold a U.S. Senate election.” So it might sound trivial.”

Leaders of the Judicial Fairness Initiative, led by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, founded by former US Attorney General Eric Holder, have sought to rally conservative donors in what they call a successful “litigation until it is blue” strategy by Democrats.

Andrew Wynne, vice president of the Judicial Fairness Initiative, said in a memo earlier, “Republicans risk an even worse fate in the 2030 redeployment process if we fail to mobilize the resources we currently have for Democrats in the state court race.” to keep pace with.” this year.

In a statement, NDRC President Kelly Burton said her group would “fight back against any Republican attempt to rig up fairness in the judicial system and jeopardize the independence of state courts.”

Battle of the Buckeye Kingdom

In recent months, state Supreme Courts have played a key role in the redistribution of feuds. On Friday, a conservative majority in Wisconsin’s High Court adopted state legislative boundaries drawn by Republicans.
A day earlier, Ohio’s Supreme Court scrapped the proposed State House and Senate maps for the fourth time.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican who has served on the bench for two decades, has joined Democrats in the Ohio High Court in 4-3 decisions to reject the map.

The Ohio Constitution now requires the partisan makeup of the state’s legislative districts to largely reflect the voting preferences of Ohioans in statewide elections over the past decade. It split about 54% – 46% in favor of Republicans. But early maps drawn by the GOP majority on the Ohio Redistribution Commission gave Republicans a chance to win a one-sided majority in the state legislature.

As with some GOP politicians, O’Connor’s votes have drawn the ire of Republicans seek impeachment,

O’Connor is retiring later this year in order to comply with the state’s age limit for justice, and a race is underway between Democratic Justice Jennifer Brunner and Republican Justice Sharon Kennedy for his successor.

Two other Republicans on the Ohio Supreme Court are also running for re-election this year.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce already aims to raise $4 million to shape Ohio’s High Court competitions, which has been spent on these races in recent election cycles.

Chamber CEO Steve Stivers said concerns related to the business, such as potential changes to state liability laws, are driving the group’s interests in a race to a higher court rather than redistribute.

Judges are currently weighing whether to overturn an Ohio law that in civil cases damages to plaintiffs could be awarded for pain and suffering.

“We want a lot of companies to come here, and we want existing small businesses to invest in their business and grow, and you can only do that if you have a legal structure that you can depend on. are,” said Stivers, a former GOP congressman.

“We have a pro-business majority in the state House and state Senate. We have a pro-business governor,” he said. “But if we have the wrong four people on the Supreme Court, we can go back every day.”

The Ohio GOP may have another advantage in November: Under a new state law, the party affiliations of Supreme Court candidates will appear on the ballot in a state that is trending Republican.

Other State Showdown

Republicans are also looking to overturn Supreme Court control in several other major states.

In North Carolina, Democrats now hold a 4-3 advantage over the state’s High Court. That court has struck down Congress-drawn maps drawn by Republicans that it has ruled have given the GOP an unfair advantage, and a state trial court that has drawn up a map drawn by court-appointed experts. Is.

The court-drawn map gives Democrats more chances to win seats, but it is expected to be in effect only for the 2022 election.

If Republicans take control of the North Carolina Supreme Court and retain their majority in the state legislature, the GOP will be able to create maps that will be used in 2024 and beyond.

The terms of two Democratic judges Sam Erwin and Robin Hudson in North Carolina expire this year. Ervin, already targeted by advertising for the Judicial Fairness Initiative, is running for re-election.

Other states that have attracted Republican attention include Michigan, where two members of the seven-member court are up for re-election, and Illinois, where four of the seven seats will be decided this year.

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