Watch John Oliver Tackle One Of the Biggest—And Least Talked About—Problems in US Politics

“When you have a system where judges are serenaded with banjos…you have a problem.”


On Sunday, HBO’s John Oliver took aim at one of American politics’ biggest—and least talked about—problems: judicial elections. As the Last Week Tonight host points out, putting judges in the position of soliciting campaign donations—often from people who may appear in their courtrooms—greatly reduces the appearance of impartiality (at best), and stacks the deck in favor of those with more money (at worst).

Mother Jones examined this issue in depth last fall, discovering that judges themselves aren’t all that thrilled that spending on judicial elections has more than doubled over the last two decades, with much of that growth in form of often unaccountable outside spending.

More Mother Jones reporting on Dark Money

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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