Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Justice O’Connor in Violation of FEC Rules?


If Justice O’Connor wants to play in political campaigns she had better learn the rules of the road. We will accept at face value — however incredible — that a recorded statement she made was used without her permission for a voter turnout robo-call. However, O’Connor’s brief statement making that claim might leave the impression that she was not actively campaigning on behalf of this political initiative. Nothing could be further from the truth.

According to reports from those who heard it, the robo-call stated: “When you enter a courtroom, the last thing Nevadans want to worry about is whether a judge is more accountable to a campaign contributor or to a special interest group, than to the law. Vote yes on Question One. Paid for by Nevadans for Qualified Judges.”

If you visit the website of Nevadans for Qualified Judges — the organization sponsoring the measure, which lists Justice O’Connor as its Honorary Chair — you can view this video featuring the same script, along with a person we are going to go ahead and assume is actually Justice O’Connor.

So what is the truth?

What we know is that her recorded statement was used by Harry Reid’s telemarketer to turn out voters. Does anyone really think Harry Reid’s team were trying to turn out Sharron Angle voters? Who got called? How were they chosen?  What lists were used? Was it coordinated with the Democratic party or Reid campaign? These are very serious questions — and possible FEC violations. This is precisely the treacherous, slippery slope that is the natural terrain of political campaigns — which is one of the reasons the Code of Conduct makes it very clear that judges should steer clear of politics. Read the Canon again, Justice O’Connor. It is talking about you.

– Gary Marx is the executive director of the Judicial Crisis Network.


Subscribe to National Review