We’re proud to share that as of today we’ve added campaign finance data to our database of judges. This update links judges in the CourtListener system to their fundraising profiles in the FollowTheMoney.org database, allowing researchers and members of the public a new way to understand judges elected in State Supreme Court jurisdictions. This work was made possible by a prototype grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Using this system, you can easily see the sources of money that a judge received as part of an election, and you can put it side by side with all of the data that we have already gathered about that judge, such as the decisions they’ve written, the positions they’ve held professionally and in the judiciary, and their biographical information.
For example, on the page for Judge Tom Parker, there is a new section that looks like this:
To our knowledge, it has never previously been possible to research the decisions written by a judge side by side with the money they’ve received. We invite researchers and journalists to use this information to uncover interesting biases that may have previously been less transparent. Other correlations can also be easily investigated. For example, a few quick queries of the data indicate that male judges appear to raise about $60,000 more than female judges.1
“When judges have to raise money to fund their election campaigns, it is important for the public to be able to easily find out who is giving them money,” says Denise Roth Barber, Managing Director of the National Institute on Money In State Politics, the organization behind FollowTheMoney.org. “Free Law Project understands that, and so it is now linking the judges in the CourtListener system to their donor profiles at FollowTheMoney.org. We are thrilled to be able to collaborate with Free Law Project on this endeavor.”
We have a lot of work to do to make our database the most comprehensive collection of judicial information available, and this update brings it one step closer. The next steps we plan on taking are to add financial disclosure reports for federal judges, and to add additional magistrate and federal bankruptcy judges. We are seeking funding for these projects.
This is based on 346 State Supreme Court judges that won their election, raised at least $1, and which have gender information encoded in CourtListener. ↩