- Jack Park, Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP
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.
On Tuesday, January 20, the Supreme Court heard argument in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, a First Amendment case involving the manner in which elected judges may raise campaign funds for themselves. The issue is whether a widely adopted provision of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibits judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign funds, violates the First Amendment. Personal solicitation of campaign funds raises concerns that prospective or sitting judges might favor or disfavor litigants and attorneys based on how they responded to such solicitation. On the other side of the issue, once States have decided to elect judges, free political speech becomes a critical component of any fair and democratic election process. In addition to broader arguments regarding the proper scope and function of the First Amendment in the context of judicial elections, this case will involve more focused First Amendment questions regarding whether the current rule, as adopted in Florida, is actually effective in preserving the existence or appearance of impartiality and whether there are less restrictive means – such as recusal – to further such goals.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah opened the Federalist Society's 2013 National Lawyers Convention with an address to attendees on Thursday, November 14, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. Senator Lee was introduced by Mr. Leonard A. Leo, Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society.
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