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The ethical hornets’ nest stirred up by the refusal of an acting West Virginia chief justice to recuse himself from a multimillion-dollar appeal involving his major campaign contributor has reached the U.S. Supreme Court in a petition framing today’s increasingly unsettling intersection of money and judicial elections.

The high court petition, fall-out from a bitter battle between competing coal companies, asks the justices to resolve “a recurring issue of far-reaching national importance.” When, in the context of campaign contributions, does due process demand a judge’s recusal? Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., No. 08-22.

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