News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Time to ban PAC-to-PAC contributions

In true American fashion, the evolution of Alabama appellate courts to Republican domination was a reaction to Democrats shutting out the GOP for decades. Determined advocates of change pumped in enough money to win the seats.

Now Democrats, after finally getting one of their own back on the state Supreme Court, want a shift in the other direction. They now favor non-partisan elections. But because of politics, the state can't get non-partisan elections.

Republicans are not about to give up their hold on the Supreme Court, Court of Civil Appeals or the Court of Criminal Appeals. They and their constituents like the partisan flavor of their decisions just as Democrats liked the prevailing judicial philosophy during their hey day.

With the state coming off the most expensive chief justice election in the country in which winner Sue Bell Cobb and incumbent Drayton Nabers collected more than $7 million in campaign funds, people are again talking about reform.

Non partisan elections, or appointing candidates and allowing them to stand for election are the current favored choices for change, if you are for change.

Not many people can name the nine members of the state Supreme Court. Most can't name five members. But that doesn't mean they don't care about who gets elected.

Consensus is that voters, whether or not they can name judges, want to elect them.

Other plans are floating that would combine reform suggestions. Neither is ideal. Still, the court system needs reform. One of the best reforms would be to stop political action committees from hiding their contributions in transfers to other PACs.

People will be better informed about which candidates merit their vote if voters know who is contributing to the candidates. That can be more revealing than carrying around the Democrat or Republican label.

Banning PAC-to-PAC contributions would be a good start toward court reform.

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