Skewed Justice


By now, we’re all used to being bombarded with political attack ads around election time. But in 39 states, a growing number of those ads are attacking judicial candidates on their criminal justice records. In many cases those ads are paid for by special interest groups who have economic and political reasons for wanting a certain judge on or off the bench.

What does it mean for the objectivity of judicial decision making if judges, consciously or subconsciously, are thinking about how a decision they make in a case will affect their ability to get re-elected? What does it mean for individuals whose lives are affected by those decisions, and what does it mean for the integrity of our justice system as a whole?

We partnered with the American Constitution Society to create a compelling video to draw audiences to the “Skewed Justice” report. A study conducted by independent researchers that looked at the effect of TV ads on judicial decisions made in criminal cases. They also looked at how this trend has been affected since the passage of the most important and publicly controversial campaign finance decision in nearly 40 years: Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. 

This short film follows the personal story of Justice Sue Bell Cobb, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Justice Cobb stepped down from her position after seeing the pressures that highly funded political campaigns are putting on judges decisions.

The film will be screened around the country at student and professional chapters of the American Constitution Society.

You can read the full study here.

To learn more about our approach to this project, check out our behind-the-scenes post here.