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- Josh Blackman, South Texas College of Law
The National Constitution Center, the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society presented this debate on Citizens United. Professor Anthony Johnstone, argued in favor of the resolution and Professor John McGinnis argued against the resolution. Jeffrey Rosen, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center, moderated the program.
This debate was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
May 12, 2015
The opinions expressed in this debate are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.
The First Amendment reads, in part, "Congress shall make no law . . .abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . ." Are there, and should there be, different levels of freedom of speech for media and non-media speakers? If so, how should "media" and "non-media" be defined, and who should decide? Our experts debated a recent Texas Court of Appeals decision that surprised some observers.
On January 20, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar. This case asks whether Florida’s rule of judicial conduct that prohibits candidates for judicial office from personally soliciting campaign funds violates the First Amendment.
In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that Florida's rule does not violate the First Amendment. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida was affirmed. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the Chief Justice’s opinion in full and Justice Ginsburg joined all except Part II. Justice Breyer filed a concurring opinion. Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, which Justice Breyer joined as to Part II. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Thomas joined. Justices Kennedy and Alito also filed dissenting opinions.
To discuss the case, we have Prof. Brian T. Fitzpatrick, a Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School and Erik Jaffe, who is a sole practitioner at Erik S. Jaffe, PC.
On April 29, the United States Supreme Court issued a 5-4 opinion in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar allowing states to bar candidates for judgeships from personally asking for campaign donations. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts noted the importance of “public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary,” concluding that “States may regulate judicial elections differently than they regulate political elections, because the role of judges differs from the role of politicians.” In dissent, Justice Scalia noted that the majority disregarded “one settled First Amendment principle after another” to reach its result.