AuthorRoss, Joseph V.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn recent years, judicial elections have undergone a transformation: races once characterized by low levels of competition, interest and participation are now comparable, in some states, to races for governor or senator. Elections for the bench as a whole are now more expensive, competitive and politicized than ever before. Arguably the most influential change in the last ten years has been the emergence of independent expenditures by political action committees and other groups in races for seats on state supreme courts. Despite the growth of this type of spending, our understanding of independent expenditures is rather limited, as the distinction between independent expenditures and direct contributions to candidates is rarely made clear.I address this in this dissertation by examining the patterns of independent spending in states with elected supreme courts. In doing so, I develop a theoretical framework to explain the decision of individual groups to support a judicial candidate independently. I argue that this decision is shaped largely by the campaign regulations imposed on judicial candidates and their potential supporters. Expectations from this theory are tested throughout the remainder of the dissertation using an original set of data drawn directly from state disclosure records. I find that independent expenditures have been concentrated in only a few states in recent years and that campaign regulations are influential in shaping this aggregate behavior. Contribution limits, in particular, redirect money from candidates' campaigns to independent expenditures. This is particularly significant due to the unique nature of judicial elections and the role of a judge in American politics. The results of the statistical and case study analyses should give pause to participants in the normative debates regarding campaign finance and judicial reform as they suggest that regulations can have unintended, but important consequences.
Degree ProgramGraduate College