The Center for American Progress released its list of million-dollar judges — those whose 2012 election campaigns raked in that amount or more, on their own or with the help of independent spending. Sharing the spotlight on that list is our own Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby:
North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby was re-elected with the help of more than $2.5 million in independent spending. The state’s public financing program—long a model for states seeking to keep money out of judicial races—was overwhelmed by money from interest groups such as the state Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, a group affiliated with the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. North Carolina tobacco companies also chipped in hundreds of thousands of dollars after they benefited from a 2009 ruling, authored by Newby, in a dispute with tobacco farmers.
The largest donation, by far, was the more than $1 million from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that helped the state’s Republican legislature draft its recent redistricting maps. Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit alleging that the map disenfranchises minority voters, and the case is currently before the state supreme court. This money was instrumental in keeping a 4-3 conservative majority on the bench. North Carolina’s ethics rules say a judge should not hear a case if his or her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” but Justice Newby will hear the redistricting case despite the fact that he was re-elected thanks to millions of dollars from Republican groups that have a stake in the outcome.