Bruce Murphy says the Supreme Court is at risk due to independent expenditures and calls for public financing.
I agree that the need to raise money in a judicial campaign has an impact on who runs. One impact, that Murphy and few others note, is the rise of self funded candidates. Although they might be good justices, a credible case can be made that at least three members of our Court might not be there if not for their ability to devote personal wealth to their campaigns.
Of course, that's a phenomenon that we see in all sorts of campaigns. It doesn't result in conflicts of interest. We get candidates who will be "nobody's Senator but yours," but who might also be nobody's choice if they didn't have so much wallet.
Public financing actually might solve that problem, but it won't solve the one that Murphy and others seem most currently exercised over.
What upsets them about the last Supreme Court election is not the money that Clifford and Ziegler raised, but the money that was spent on their behalf by others; mostly by WMC for Ziegler.
If someone is willing to spend that type of money on behalf of a self funded candidate who does not lack for campaign money, why wouldn't they spend it on behalf of a publicly funded candidate?
As I have written before, it is highly unlikely that any public financing bill can constitutionally stop groups from running issue ads during a campaign.
If that's true, then public financing might address the advantages of self funded candidates and the need to raise direct contributions, but it won't solve the problem that its advocates seem to emphasize as its rationale. Advocacy groups will still spend.