AT ISSUE: Ads targeting Courtney Goodson.

Federal Judge Brian Miller took under advisement today Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson’s request for a preliminary injunction to silence TV ads criticizing her and supporting David Sterling for her seat on the court.

Goodson has sued the Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee, which is spending more than $1 million to defeat her with money from its multi-million warchest of corporate money that supports conservative Republicans at every level of government, this year including a candidate for mayor in Bentonville.


Goodson says the ads are defamatory because they contain untrue information. The RSLC has argued that the ads are based on facts.

One difference emerged today, long after the fact. The ads say Goodson supported a pay raise. She has said this was incorrect, though the only public record on Supreme Court pay raises is Chief Justice Dan Kemp’s testimony last year before the independent citizens commission that sets pay raises that the Court deserved an 11 percent pay raise. It got 2 percent.


Today, Goodson testified for the first time that she had voted in the court’s secret conference against the pay raise. The Associated Press’ Andrew DeMillo reported on her testimony and a response from David James of the RSLC that she’d had plenty of opportunities to make that known before today, with a lawsuit pending. There’s no report that she offered testimony to dispute the ads’ mention of gifts and campaign contributions she’d received from trial lawyers. She has said the ads are unfair for omitting context of her efforts to recuse from cases involving those lawyers, though the RSCL has noted some cases in which she participated that involved some of those lawyers.

With election day fast approaching, time grows short to take the ads off the air. Perhaps it is as much a way for Goodson to get media attention to her argument. She has no money — of her own or from dark money sources — to combat the onslaught of RSLC TV and mailers. But it seems to me it’s had the ill effect of further publicizing the charges and also the shaky First Amendment grounds on which she’s trying to drive political speech off the air. (Again: I’m no sympathizer with the RSLC, its ideology, its fatcat backers or its tactics.)


Meanwhile, Sterling faces complaints at the state Ethics Commission and the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission over 1) the time he’s taken as a state employee (DHS legal counsel) to campaign and 2) his advertising aligning himself politically with Donald Trump and Asa Hutchinson. Aren’t judges supposed to be impartial? This one won’t be, which is exactly what the RSLC wants, in case you miss my point.