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Alabama is once again the most expensive state in which to become a state supreme court justice. Fifteen candidates in the state raised a total of $13.4 million during the 2006 election cycle in pursuit of a seat on the state’s highest bench, according to a new report from D.C.-based watchdog group Justice at Stake and two partner groups. Much of that money was spent subjecting the Cotton State’s voters to more than 17,800 airings of TV advertisements paid for by the candidates or various interest groups. At the center of the money scrum was a particularly nasty campaign for state chief justice, which featured $8.2 million in spending, making it the second most expensive judicial campaign in American history. But Alabama’s judicial candidates were hardly alone in taking to the airwaves. Ten of the 11 states to have state supreme court races last year featured TV advertisements, up from four of 18 states that held supreme court elections in 2000. Business groups in particular threw their weight around, outspending lawyers nearly 2-to-1 in their contributions to supreme court candidates in those states that held elections last year. “Other elected officials are supposed to make promises and keep them,” says Bert Brandenburg, the director of Justice at Stake. “But judges are supposed to decide cases one at a time, not based on campaign trail sound bites and 30-second ads.”
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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