Regulating Judicial Elections

 Regulating Judicial Elections Assessing State Codes of Judicial Conduct book cover State judicial elections are governed by a unique set of rules that enforce longstanding norms of judicial independence by limiting how judicial candidates campaign. These rules have been a key part of recent debates over judicial elections and have been the subject of several U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Regulating Judicial Elections provides the first accounting of the efficacy and consequences of such rules. C. Scott Peters re-frames debates over judicial elections by shifting away from all-or-nothing claims about threats to judicial independence and focusing instead on the trade-offs inherent in our checks and balances system. In doing so, he is able to examine the costs and benefits of state ethical restrictions. Peters finds that while some parts of state codes of conduct achieve their desired goals, others may backfire and increase the politicization of judicial elections. Moreover, modest gains in the protection of independence come at the expense of the effectiveness of elections as accountability mechanisms. These empirical findings will inform ongoing normative debates about judicial elections.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figure


1. Introduction: Campaigning for Justice (pdf)

2. Independence and Accountability: The Two-Sided Coin Protecting the Rule of Law

3. The Code of Judicial Conduct and Its Adoption by the States

4. The Canons of Ethics and Candidate Advertising

5. The Canons of Ethics and Interest Group Advertising

6. Protecting Independence or Protecting Incumbents?

7. Conclusion: Toward a Framework for Regulating Judicial Elections




State Codes of Judicial Conduct Dataset (xls)
Dataset coding canons of ethics, advisory opinions, disciplinary actions from all states with judicial elections, 1990-2010

Zip file containing pdfs of text of state codes of conduct, 1990-2010

Replication Data (via Dataverse)
Chapter 3 (Stata code | data)
Chapter 4 (Stata code | data)
Chapter 5 (Stata code | data)
Chapter 6 (Stata code | data)
Online Appendix--Supplemental Data & Robustness Tests
Chapter 3 Appendix (pdf) -- Summary of state enactment of and changes to codes of conduct and state advisory opinions and disciplinary actions
Chapter 3 Robustness tests (Stata code | results)
Chapter 4 Robustness tests (Stata code | results)
Chapter 5 Robustness tests (Stata code | results)
Chapter 6 Robustness tests (Stata code | results)