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State of Alabama

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Alabama

Campaign Financing

The issue that has come to define the politics of judicial selection in Alabama is tort reform. In the early 1980s, Alabama juries began awarding punitive damages that were substantially larger than those seen in most other states, earning Alabama the moniker "Tort Hell." In 1987, the legislature passed a broad tort-reform package, most of the major provisions of which were subsequently struck down by the Alabama Supreme Court. Contests for seats on the supreme court became a battle between those who supported and opposed tort reform. In recent years, the primary source of campaign funds for supreme court candidates has been PACs associated with the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association and the Business Council of Alabama.

As in several other states, the cost of judicial campaigns has skyrocketed in Alabama in recent years. Since 1993, candidates for seats on Alabama's supreme court have raised more than $58 million. The 2006 elections saw the most expensive judicial race in state history and the second most expensive in U.S. history, with candidates for the chief justiceship raising $8.2 million.

Other than a $500 limit on contributions from corporations, Alabama imposes no limits on campaign contributions to judicial candidates.

See below for National Institute on Money in State Politics data on contributions to state high court candidates.

Amounts raised by each candidate at the most recent election cycle:

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