Following Vernon Valentine Palmer's evidence that judges were more likely to rule for parties that had contributed to their election, X-Judge H. Lee Sarokin endorses a mandatory recusal policy for elected judges: “Judges should recuse themselves in cases in which either a lawyer or litigant has contributed to their election.”
Sounds great, right? So if I'm a corporate lawyer (or union lawyer) and think Judge Y leans too far towards unions (or against, as the case may be), all I have to do is make a token contribution to that judge and voila! I've stacked the bench.
The disease is likely real, but this cure is worse than the disease.
This policy of recusal would prove hard in some places, especially in Miami; some firms in Miami give to all judges.
Someone, I forget who, has proposed a “blind trust” variant of campaign contributions. You make a contribution to the intermediary, which makes the contribution. The recipient never knows who actually contributed to the campaign. (Did I read this here, Michael?