Avery v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.
Illinois’ highest court selects its judges through partisan elections. This case reached that court in 2002 following a $1.05 billion verdict against State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Company. While the case was pending, a new judge was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court, who received more than $1 million in direct and indirect campaign contributions from State Farm and groups affiliated with State Farm. The judge refused to disqualify himself and then cast the deciding vote in favor of State Farm overturning the verdict. The petition for certiorari raised the question whether a judge receiving such financial support from a party and its supporters, while that party’s case is pending before him, may cast the deciding vote in that case consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.