From the Magna Carta to Caperton v. A. T. Massey: Judicial Impartiality and the “Crown Jewels of Our System of Government”

By Lin Allen.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This analysis examines oral arguments in Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Company, a case heard by the Supreme Court on March 3, 2009. In a 5-4 decision handed down June 8, 2009, the Court ruled for Caperton. The case examines ethical questions based on a 1991 Supreme Court acknowledgment of ‘a fundamental tension between the ideal character of the judicial office and of the real world of electoral politics’” (The Economist, 6). This tension is described in a Brief Amicus Curiae, The Center for Political Accountability and Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School:

“The escalation of judicial campaign spending traps business leaders into a classic ‘prisoner’s dilemma.’ For ethical and financial reasons, most corporations would prefer to avoid spending money . . . for a seat on a court where it has a matter pending . . . In today’s election environment, however, a corporation must consider the likelihood that its opponent in high-stakes litigation may actively support one or more of the judges that will hear its case.”

Competing visions of judicial impartiality are examined in this analysis.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Judicial Impartiality, Recusal, Campaign Contributions, Character

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 7, pp.23-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.185MB).

Dr. Lin Allen

Faculty, Professor, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO, USA

For seventeen years Lin Suzanne Allen has taught Rhetoric courses at the University of Northern Colorado, focusing on the rhetorical construction of language and images in court cases and cultural memory. In May she was a participant in “Cultural Narratives of the New China” in Beijing. She completed a Faculty Development Seminar in Athens in 2006. Allen’s B.A. is from Idaho State University, where she coached debate and directed the Forensics Program. Her M.A. is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Communication Arts, and her Ph.D. is from the University of Orgeon in Speech. She is a CASA volunteer, as well as a member and board member of Partners of the Americas and the American Scientific Affiliation.


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