Many years ago, when my hair was still thick, this justice spoke at a conference on state court judicial elections. I was not there, but the story goes that when it came to an audience question, an idealistic young man asked this West Virginia supreme court justice: How do you go about becoming a state supreme court justice? Do you have to go to a good law school? Do you have to become involved in the state bar association? Do you have to become involved in civic organizations? Do you have to become a trial judge, then an appellate judge, and then tender your resume to the governor and hope that merit is the measure? Is that how you have to do it?
Without pausing for an ethical second, the bold justice from West Virginia said, “Money, my man, money.” This is the realist backdrop or subtext for much of the discussion about Caperton and also White. At least some of the subtext includes an animosity to judicial elections and an attempt to defang them.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Justice Hans Linde, Jamie Pedersen, Judge David Schuman, Charles Wiggins, and Ronald Collins, Transcript: Session 2: The Problem of State Judicial Campaign “Arms Races”—What Can Be Done in the State Legislatures and State Courts?, 33 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 589 (2010).