Cruz, Cornyn and Graham rake in $160,000 from judicial nominees in pay-to-play scheme

  • 03/06/2020 9:19 am ET Samantha Weller
'Fed Judges buying their seats!' 3 GOP senators rake in $160,000 from judicial nominees

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, and Lindsey Graham received a total of $160,000 in contributions from judicial nominees.

These contributions have sparked much debate and speculations, and a report by CQ Roll Call analyzes all angles and makes some very interesting observations…

1. More than the rest

Twitter mocks Cruz's abortion goof

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore


The total amount Cruz, Cornyn, and Graham received was more than the rest of the members of the Judiciary committee combined.

All 3 senators have been members of the committee since July 2019, and almost all of the contributions came from nominees they backed.

2. Where is the cash coming from?

The SEVEN times Trump said Obama would attack Iran before an election 1

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore and Wikimedia


Trump judges were found to be two times more likely to contribute than Obama judges.



3.The debate

The 20 Republican incumbents in 2020 for Senate 15

Source: Wikipedia

Surprisingly Cornyn, who received around $44,000, is among those who debated about the fairness of judges contributing to politics.

Back in June 2010, when Obama nominated John J. McConnell Jr., who raised $530,000 in contributions, Cornyn Told Politico, “I think there well could be the appearance [of] a conflict of interest there.”

What do two of the senators who gave the most money have in common?

4. Everything’s bigger in Texas

Cruz, Cornyn and Graham rake in $160,000 from judicial nominees in pay-to-play scheme

Source: Canva

They both come from the same state which also happens to be the one that diverges from other court systems.

Both Cornyn and Cruz have strong legal backgrounds, and as Paul Brace, a professor of political science at Rice University says “the conservatism of the United States Senate lines up with the conservatism of Texas politics.”

Texas rules  

A lot of states don’t allow judges to make campaign contributions. In Texas, it is not only allowed but is, in fact, very common.

Cruz and Cornyn declined to comment on any details regarding those judges or how the candidates were evaluated.

5. Graham’s history of contributions

Lindsey Graham starts investigation into 'longtime friend' Joe Biden

Source: Screenshot/YouTube

As for Lindsey Graham (R-SC), he also has a long history of involvement in the committee.

His spokesman, Kevin Bishop, says “Senator Graham made it clear when he became Judiciary Committee chairman that his priority was the confirmation of ‘Judges. Judges. And more judges.”

However, when asked about contributions Graham received in the past, many of which were around $14,000, Bishop simply said:

“As for your questions, it appears the judges you cited have long contribution histories to numerous candidates, including Republicans and Democrats.”

6. Is it ethical in a court system?

Source: Unsplash

A U.S. code of conduct for judges states that federal judges should not be allowed to make political contributions in order to prevent bias or controversial support.

Jeffrey Shaman, a former professor at Depaul College of Law and co-author of “Judicial Conduct and Ethics,” says, “A judge should really know better than this. It’s just expressly prohibited.”

Law professor Charles Geyh, and the other co-author of Shaman’s book, called even small political contributions a “venial sin.”

7. Loyalty trumps all

Trump window

Source: Wikimedia

What could these contributions mean for the future of politics and courts?

Some experts are concerned that, when federal judges get involved in politics, it decreases how legitimate courts are.

According to Roll Call, the public views courts as being on a more neutral standpoint, but if judges start being seen in a more political light, their rulings might be viewed as more of a partisan turn.

As Geyh puts it:

“It’s a small part of a larger problem of how worried should we be about judges behaving more and more like politicians.”

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