Faculty Notes

Prof. James Sample Explains Caperton v. Massey’s Import in New York Times Judicial Elections Story

James Sample, Associate Professor of Law

Professor James Sample is quoted in an article by Adam Liptak in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times examining issues surrounding the election of judges.

A version of the article appeared in print on Sept. 28, 2014, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline “Judges on the Campaign Trail.”

Judges on the Campaign Trail
By Adam Liptak
The New York Times
Sept. 27, 2014


At their private conference on Monday, the Supreme Court will consider whether to hear a case that could take another step toward reshaping judicial elections. The question now is whether candidates for judicial office may personally solicit campaign contributions.

Should the Supreme Court agree to hear the case, Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, No. 13-1499, most signs point to a ruling that will further loosen campaign restrictions.

But one points in a different direction. In 2009, the Supreme Court required the chief justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court to recuse himself from a case in light of $3 million of campaign spending on his behalf by an interested party.

Such spending, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote, could give rise to “a debt of gratitude.” Seven months later, in Citizens United, Justice Kennedy suggested that politicians were more trustworthy than judges. As to politicians, he said, “There is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate.”

James Sample, a law professor at Hofstra University, said the 2009 decision Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co. “has elevated the notion that there is something other than the First Amendment in the discussion when it comes to judicial elections.”

Read the full article.