Democrats have enjoyed a near lock on state Supreme Court seats in recent years, adding liberal justices through Democrat gubernatorial appointments (Debra Stephens, Mary Yu, Steven Gonzalez) as well as at the polls, starting in 1990 with the election of trial lawyer favorite Charles Johnson. Conservative justices have been shut out since the retirement of Jim Johnson in 2014, leaving nine judges ranging from liberal to very liberal on the bench.
This unanimity of far-left thought brought out three challengers out this year, with each of the incumbent justices on the ballot – Barbara Madsen, Yu, and Charles Wiggins – facing a credible opponent, a rare occurrence for sitting justices. And now, with the election less than two weeks away, independent expenditure campaigns have targeted the weakest of the three – Justice Wiggins – much to his dismay.
The whining from Wiggins has even reached a national audience, thanks to an article in The Hill, the paper which covers Congress. The story focuses on some big names behind the effort to unseat Wiggins, like Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer, and features Wiggins exhibiting ignorance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, saying “The money being spent against him ‘demonstrates the problems with Citizens United. How can you effectively limit money going into judicial races, or any races for that matter, if money talks?’ ”
Evidently Wiggins is unaware that the Citizens United decision has absolutely nothing to do with the ability of individuals in Washington State to spend money on judicial races. In fact, Wiggins himself benefited from independent expenditures when he won election in 2010 – something he didn’t complain about then.
Now, however, the very republic is in danger because some people are spending money to defeat him. As he complains, “this kind of negative campaigning that I’m confronting is corrosive.”
And for the sake of diversity on the court, hopefully it will be effective as well.