90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Electing Judges: Justice for Sale?

An alarming new study says spending on state Supreme Court elections has more than doubled in the past decade.

West Virginia judges rehear a case after photos surfaced showing a state Supreme Court Justice vacationing with a person involved in a pending case. Judicial elections in West Virginia have remained controversial, with one disputed election leading to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. (AP)

Americans widely bemoan the influence of big money in their politics. Now, let’s look to the courts. 

A new study, out this week, says spending on state Supreme Court elections has exploded – more than doubled – in the last ten years. Twenty-two states elect top judges and sixteen more have retention elections. 

Smart money, big money, has figured out that can mean a lot of leverage. Former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor is warning that a perception of “justice for sale” in this country threatens to undermine the rule of law. 

We look at money, justice and the courts.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, a nonpartisan campaign to keep state courts fair and impartial. His organization’s new, eye-opening report, “The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2000-2009: Decade of Change,” was just released.

James Bopp, Jr., attorney with Bopp, Coleson and Bostrom, and the James Madison Center for Free Speech. He’s known as the legal mind behind the Citizens United case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations, unions and nonprofits can spend any amount to support or oppose the election of a candidate. He is currently serving as a lawyer for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is defending his ads during the 2008 election in that state.

Penny White, professor of law at the University of Tennessee College of Law and a former Justice on Tennessee’s Supreme Court. She lectures widely on judicial independence and the need for reform.

Clifford Taylor, former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. He is a currently an attorney and law professort at the Ave Maria School of Law.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 5, 2015
A car passes a memorial for Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson last summer, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Ferguson. A Justice Department investigation found sweeping patterns of racial bias within the Ferguson police department, with officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force, issuing petty citations and making baseless traffic stops, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the report.  (AP)

The big Justice Department report finds a pattern of racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department. Now what? We’re back in Ferguson – and beyond — for answers.

Mar 5, 2015
One in four women use psychiatric medication. The reasons for the medication aren't always so clear. (Flickr)

Are American women being prescribed psychiatric drugs – anti-depressants, anti-psychotics — for normal emotions? We’ll hear out one psychiatrist’s bold claim.

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 4, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

 
Mar 4, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP)

Hillary Clinton’s week of bad headlines: about her emails and foreign money going to the Clinton Foundation. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Answers To Your Questions On Black Holes
Tuesday, Mar 3, 2015

Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan answers your black hole questions in full. (Well, most of them.)

More »
Comment
 
Want To Listen To Lead Belly? Here’s Where To Start
Monday, Mar 2, 2015

Loved our show on Lead Belly, but unsure on where you should start to listen? Jeff Place of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage offers his best picks for a beginning Lead Belly listener.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment