U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS to consider ethics rule banning judicial candidates from soliciting contributions

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to decide the constitutionality of a Florida judicial conduct rule that bars judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions.

At issue is whether the ban violates the First Amendment, report the Washington Post and the New York Times. Federal appeals courts have split on the issue. SCOTUSblog links to the cert petition (PDF) and other documents.

The Florida ban does not allow judicial candidates to make in-person requests for funds, nor does it allow solicitations in mass mailings and speeches. The conduct rule does allow judicial candidates to form committees to solicit funds, however.

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.

Thirty-nine states either elect judges or have judicial retention elections. Thirty of them ban personal solicitation of campaign contributions by the judicial candidates, according to the New York Times

The case is Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar.

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