Ethical Implications of Citizens United on Judicial Elections

February 15, 2013 in Business Law & Policy, Business-Related Cases, Diversity and the Judicial Branch, Diversity in National Life, Featured

NBACitizensUnitedCLE_2.14.13Judge Denise Langford Morris, Professor Spencer Overton, and Professor Rachel J. Anderson presented on a panel moderated by Associate Dean Alfreda Robinson entitled “The Ethical Implications of Citizens United on Judicial Elections: Can Money Undermine Judicial Elections?” on February 14, 2013. The panel was sponsored by the National Bar Association (NBA) Judicial Council Division and the Law Professors Division as part of the NBA Mid-Winter Meeting.

The panel:

  • examined increased spending patterns in judicial elections,
  • assessed the potential effects on public perception, fairness, and judicial independence
  • addressed whether potential unlimited money constitutes a disproportionate threat to judges of color, and
  • discussed whether the unfettered ability to fund judicial races result in targeting or promoting “view point” justice.

The moderator:

Associate Dean Alfreda Robinson is Associate Dean for Trial Advocacy, Professorial Lecturer in Law, and Co-Director of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program at the The George Washington University Law School. She earned her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Chicago. Dean Robinson is the Chair of the NBA Law Professors Division and is a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation of the American Bar Association.  Before entering academia, she was in private practice and also served as a senior trial counsel and trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Civil Division.

The panelists:

Judge Denise Langford Morris serves as a Judge on the Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan. She earned her J.D. from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and her M.A. cum laude in Guidance and Counseling from Wayne State University. Judge Langford Morris is Oakland County’s first African American Circuit Court judge. She was appointed to the Court in August of 1992, retained in the 1994 election, and re-elected in 2000, 2006, and 2012. Judge Langford Morris is also the longest serving female judge on the Oakland County Circuit Court. Before being appointed to the court, she was an Assistant United States Attorney, an Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor, and worked for Michigan Social Services as a protective investigator for disabled adults, senior citizens, abused and neglected children. Judge Langford Morris is a Board member for the University of Detroit Mercy, a member of the State Bar Judicial Crossroads Task Force Committee, the Chair-Elect of the National Bar Association Judicial Council, member of the Renaissance (MI) Chapter of the Links, Inc., and a member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. Judge Langford Morris was the Democratic nominee for the Michigan Supreme Court in 2010.

Professor Spencer Overton is the Director of the Political Law Studies Initiative and a Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School and specializes in voting rights and campaign finance. He earned his J.D. at Harvard University and his B.A. in Mass Media/Journalism at Hampton University. Professor Overton was part of the Obama Transition Team, served in the Office of the General Counsel, and was appointed the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice in the Office of Legal Policy. He chaired the Election Assistance Commission Agency Review Team, served as a member of the Federal Election Commission Agency Review Team, as a commissioner on the Jimmy Carter-James Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, and the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling. Before entering academia, he practiced law at Debevoise & Plimpton in Washington, DC. Professor Overton has written numerous articles on election law.

Professor Rachel J. Anderson is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law and teaches Business Organizations and International Business Transactions. She earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and her M.A. in International Policy from Stanford University. Before entering academia, Professor Anderson practiced law in the London office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. She acted for banks, private equity, national governments, and transnational corporations on corporate and securities matters and international business transactions. Before law school, she consulted on European Commission technical assistance projects in the Russian Federation and policy training for public officials and private sector experts in Eastern Europe.

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