2017 UALR Law Reivew Symposium

“Dark Money and Related Issues: New Factors in the Debate on Judicial Appointment versus Election”

February 15-17

After the United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), the nation’s attention began to focus more on anonymous groups, including Super PACS and 527 groups, and their influence on both federal and state elections. This influence has increased. According to the study Secret Spending in the States, the amount spent on state and local campaigns by unidentified donors in 2014 was nearly 20 times the amount spent in 2010.

The broad goal of this symposium was to debate the strengths and weaknesses of judicial election systems versus judicial appointment systems, with an eye toward the best solution for Arkansas. Topics of interest included, for example, whether an appointment process would be appropriate for all appellate judges or only Supreme Court Justices; the most effective and bipartisan types of appointment processes; issues surrounding recusal from cases involving contributors; and reforms to protect the election process from the influence of “dark money.” We had panels comprising a mix of academics, judges, and legislators, both Arkansans and out-of-state speakers and contributors.

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