Judge's campaign committee loses 6th Circuit appeal in challenge to fundraising restrictions

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A federal appeals court has ruled against a judicial campaign committee that had challenged restrictions on fundraising.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) on Monday against the committee for Colleen O’Toole, an appeals judge who is seeking the Republican party nomination for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court, Courthouse News Service reports.

At issue in the appeal was a rule restricting the timing of fundraising solicitations and contributions to judicial campaigns. O’Toole’s campaign committee had claimed the rule violates core political speech under the First Amendment.

The campaign committee also claimed the rule disadvantages campaign committees with little or no retained funds in violation of the equal protection clause. A second equal protection claim was that the judicial committee was treated differently than other political organizations.

A lower court had refused to enjoin application of the rule, and the 6th Circuit affirmed, finding the campaign committee had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits.

The 6th Circuit cited the state’s interest in regulating judicial elections, as expressed in an April decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision, Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, held that states may ban judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions.

The compelling interest underlying the Ohio restriction “specifically relates to the unique nature of judicial elections and the importance of maintaining the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary—interests that are different from those implicated by political campaigns,” the 6th Circuit said.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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