Washington (AP) -- The Supreme Court has ruled that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions from interested parties create the appearance of bias.
By a 5-4 vote in a case from West Virginia, the court said that a judge who remained involved in a lawsuit filed against the company of the most generous supporter of his election deprived the other side of the constitutional right to a fair trial.
With multimillion-dollar judicial election campaigns on the rise, the court's decision Monday could have widespread significance.
Justice at stake, which tracks campaign spending in judicial elections, says judges are elected in 39 states and that candidates for the highest state courts have raised more than $168 million since 2000.
(Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)