Judicial Nomination Process

Judicial Campaign Fundraising and the Supreme Court: Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar - Podcast

Free Speech & Election Law Practice Group Podcast
Erik S. Jaffe, M. Edward Whelan III January 22, 2015

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.

  • Erik S. Jaffe, Sole Practitioner, Erik S. Jaffe, PC
  • M. Edward Whelan III, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Welcome & Opening Address by Mike Lee - Event Audio/Video

2013 National Lawyers Convention
Michael S. Lee, Leonard A. Leo November 20, 2013

Mike S. LeeSenator 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.
[Watch or listen now!]

Dumbing Down the Courts - Podcast

Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group Podcast
Curt Levey, John R. Lott Jr., Dean A. Reuter September 27, 2013

Dumbing Down the CourtsWhat has caused the increased battles over judicial confirmations?  Which nominees have had the most difficult confirmations? Using the largest, most detailed data set on judicial confirmations ever assembled, a new book, Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges off the Bench, shows that it is the smartest/most potentially influential nominees who have had by the far the most difficult time getting confirmed.


  • Mr. Curt Levey, President and Executive Director, The Committee for Justice
  • Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., Author, of Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges off the Bench
  • Moderator: Dean Reuter, Vice President and Director of Practice Groups, The Federalist Society

[Listen now!]

ABA Urges Confirmation of Judicial Nominees

ABA Watch August 2012
August 03, 2012

ABA Urges Confirmation of Judicial NomineesOn June 20, the ABA sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voicing its concerns about the slow pace of the judicial confirmation process. The ABA is concerned that judicial nominations will come to a halt because of the so-called “Leahy-Thurmond Rule,” in which the Senate stops confirming “long-standing” judicial nominees during a presidential election year. The last circuit-court nominees were confirmed in June during the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, and in July during the 2000 campaign... [Read more!]

ABA Weighs in on Judicial Selection

ABA Watch August 2012
August 03, 2012

ABA Weighs in on Judicial SelectionThe ABA has long supported “merit” selection in appointing state-court judges over elections or the federal model. Former American Bar Association President Alfred Carlton convened the Commission on the 21st Century Judiciary in 2003 to study state judicial systems. The Commission was created to “provide a framework and ABA policy that enable the Association to defuse the escalating partisan battle over American courts; to accommodate the principles of merit selection in a new model of judicial selection that minimizes the escalating politicization.” In its report to the ABA, the Commission described recommendations for states to improve their judicial-selection processes so as to avoid this “politicization.” The Commission’s recommendations, adopted by the ABA, state that the “preferred system of state court judicial selection is a commission-based appointive system.” The recommendations go on to describe a Missouri Plan-style appointment system where judges are appointed by the governor from among those on a list of candidates compiled by a commission. These judges would ideally be immune to removal from their positions save for cases of misconduct... [Read more!]