Retiring Justice Jon Wilcox is concerned about the tone of the Supreme Court race and the amount of money it attracts. He is concerned that it creates a perception that judges must be on "one side or the other."
I am sympathetic. While there is a sense in which judges are on a particular "side," it is not - even with judges whom I might regard as more "activist" and "results-oriented"- not quite the same as a politician being liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. Even "unbound" judges operate within closer quarters.
But the money and the heat seem to be inevitable consequences of the court's more aggressive use of its authority. If the court is going to take on more and more of our collective decisionmaking and if it is going to treat statutory and constitutional text more as starting than ending points, then the rest of us are going to increasingly see them as just another set of political actors. We will be less concerned with lawerly virtues and more interested in ideology, since that it what we're going to get anyway.
We can decry all the special interest money but that money is being spent by people who know what is at stake here. And I'd suggest that the it is not the money that causes judges to "take sides" but "taking sides" that brings in the money.