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Midterm Elections 2014: 5 Reasons Lawyers Should Care

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on November 03, 2014 8:16 AM

Tuesday is Election Day, and because it's a midterm election year, the political climate in the country is poised to change. But because it seems almost no one except hardcore politicos are planning to vote, the reaction on Wednesday is likely to be, "Hey, what happened?"

As usual, there are a lot of legal battles going on this year. Here are five reasons why lawyers should pay particular attention to what happens on November 4:

1. They're Bashing Trial Lawyers Again.

But don't they always? "Trial lawyers" are the go-to boogeymen for "tort reform," also known as "corporations don't want plaintiffs with grievances to be able to sue them." In California, Proposition 46 is oft criticized as being "paid for by trial lawyers"; in Florida, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is being called a "trial lawyer," and that's supposed to be pejorative.

2. Notable Lawyers Are Running for Office.

Geez, where to start? There's Wendy Davis (Harvard Law School) running for governor of Texas against attorney general Greg Abbott (Vanderbilt University Law School). Alison Lundergan Grimes (American University's Washington College of Law) wants to unseat Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (University of Kentucky College of Law). And in Ohio, former Cuyahoga County prosecutor Ed FitzGerald (Cleveland-Marshall College of Law) is expected to lose to incumbent Gov. John Kasich (sadly, not a lawyer). Makes you think "politician" is one of those mythological "J.D. Advantage" jobs.

3. Recreational Marijuana Is On the Ballot.

Only Colorado and Washington state permit the recreational sale of marijuana -- but that might change. Tomorrow, voters in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia will decide whether they want to get in on the action, especially since states are making money from this experiment and the anti-pot parade of horribles hasn't come to pass. And guess what? People in these jurisdictions who want to start up their own pot shops are going to need lawyers to help them. Just sayin'.

4. Judicial Elections Are Getting More Expensive Than Ever.

For some silly reason, most states elect their judges, and because the constitutionality of laws stops at the courthouse, both parties are pouring more money than ever into judicial election campaigns. In a contentious race in North Carolina, over $5 million has been spent so far, according to the Institute for Southern Studies. A significant chunk of that money came from political groups outside of North Carolina.

5. Five Letters: SCOTUS.

If the Republican Party retakes the Senate, then we're in for an interesting time when it comes to federal judge appointments. Under a compromise agreement, neither party will filibuster non-Supreme Court federal judicial nominees, but that could all change at the whim of whoever's in charge. And if any member of the Supreme Court gets hit by a train in the next two years, there will be a minor explosion on Capitol Hill.

Editor's Note, November 3, 2014: This post was updated to correctly identify the two lawyers running for Texas governor.

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