La. Justices swayed by campaign donations, study finds

Rob Luke Feb. 13, 2008, 7:47am

Louisiana Supreme Court Justice John L. Weimer

BATON ROUGE -- A recent academic study of the Louisiana Supreme Court appears to cast doubt on arguments by judges that their rulings are not influenced by election-campaign contributions.

A study by two researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans and summarized online examined the decisions of nine Justices over 14 years and 181 civil cases. It found that, when at least one of their donors was before the court, the Justices voted for their position on average 65 percent of the time.

Two members of the bench - Chief Justice Pascal Calogero and Associate Justice John Weimer - voted for contributors at least 80 percent of the time, the study found. Weimer also showed a clear preference, when confronted with two contributors in the same case, to vote the larger donor's position.

Of the 181 cases studied, 47 percent involved at least one campaign donor to one Justice. Campaign contributions in all studied cases totaled $400,000.

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