Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Supreme Court Upholds Bar on Judges Soliciting Contributions

Lanell Williams-Yulee -unsuccessful candidate
The First Amendment can be restricted when Courts limit the ability of judicial candidates for election to solicit contributions.  In a rare victory against the anti-regulatory use of free speech principles, the Supreme Court today rejected the claim that free speech rights trump restrictive state regulations.  Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion of the Court - one in which no other Justice fully joined. An excerpt from the Syllabus of today's fractured 5-4 rulings in Yulee v. Florida State Bar follows.
Justice Scalia dissented, joined by Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. - gwc
Florida is one of 39 States where voters elect judges at the polls. To promote public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary, the Florida Supreme Court adopted Canon 7C(1) of its Code of Judicial Conduct, which provides that judicial candidates “shall not personally solicit campaign funds . . . but may establish committees of responsible persons” to raise money for election campaigns. Petitioner Lanell Williams-Yulee (Yulee) mailed and posted online a letter soliciting financial contributions to her campaign for judicial office. The Florida Bar disciplined her for violating a Florida Bar Rule requiring candidates to comply with Canon 7C(1), but Yulee contended that the First Amendment protects a judicial candidate’s right to personally solicit campaign funds in an election. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the disciplinary sanctions, concluding that Canon 7C(1) is narrowly tailored to serve the State’s compelling interest.
Held: The judgment is affirmed. 

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