ABA urges SCOTUS to uphold ethics rule banning judicial candidates from soliciting contributions
The ABA has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Florida judicial conduct rule that bars judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign funds.
The issue in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar is whether the Florida ban violates the First Amendment. The ABA argues in its brief (PDF) that the ban on personal solicitations is narrowly tailored to promote the state’s compelling interest in a fair and impartial judiciary free from corruption and the appearance of corruption. The case is scheduled for argument on Jan. 20, according to an ABA press release.
The Florida judicial ethics rule is nearly identical to a canon in the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Florida is among 30 states with such ethics rules, according to the ABA. Despite the ban on personal solicitations for contributions, the canon allows judicial candidates to establish committees to raise funds and to communicate their views and qualifications for office.
The petitioner, Lanell Williams-Yulee, was reprimanded and ordered to pay court costs for signing a mass-mail fundraising letter in 2010 while a candidate for a judgeship in Hillsborough County. The fact that the personal solicitation was a mailing, rather than a personal solicitation, does not change the analysis, the ABA brief argues.