Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar
This case involved a first amendment challenge to a Florida Bar rule that prohibits candidates in state judicial elections from personally soliciting campaign contributions. Public Citizen, together with Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the constitutionality of the rule. The brief argued that states have a compelling interest in preserving the fairness and appearance of fairness of their judicial systems, and that the influence, access and favoritism that the Supreme Court has deemed tolerable in elections for legislative and executive offices has no place in judicial elections. By a 5-4 majority, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court upheld the rule against solicitation of contributions by judicial candidates. The majority accepted the position of our brief that the appearance of influence, access, and favoritism is intolerable in the judicial system and that the compelling interest in preventing such an appearance justifies the restriction on solicitations.