Judicial Candidate Petitions High Court For Right to Campaign

Posted by James Madison CenterJul 06, 20160 Comments

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Phone 812/232-2434; Fax 812/235-3685; [email protected]

Judicial Candidate Petitions High Court For Right to Campaign

            Last week, Randolph Wolfson asked the United States Supreme Court to review Arizona's judicial canons that restrict the ability of  state court judicial candidates to engage in ordinary political activities as part of their campaigns. Mr. Wolfson is a resident of Golden Valley, Arizona, and was a candidate for Superior Court Judge in Mohave County in the 2008 election.

            Elections for state court judges in Arizona are partisan. Yet under Arizona law, judicial candidates are significantly limited in their ability to engage in many political activities typical of election campaigns. The Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits candidates from endorsing or otherwise supporting other party candidates and ballot initiatives during their campaigns.

            Under the U.S. Supreme Court decision Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, the First Amendment protects judicial candidates' right to announce their views on disputed issues during their campaigns. However, a more recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Yulee v. Florida State Bar, upheld a ban on personal solicitations because contributions could create the appearance of  bias or favor for judicial candidates that became judges. Mr. Wolfson initially won his case on appeal under White, but a subsequent appellate court rehearing the matter reversed and upheld the rules under Yulee

            According to attorney James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for Mr. Wolfson, “these canons are in direct violation of the First Amendment. Judicial candidates' free speech rights are being unconstitutionally restricted and voters are being deprived of their right to cast an informed vote.” He continues, “there is a conflict between White and Yulee that is resulting in Mr. Wolfson's right to speak being unconstitutionally infringed. This conflict is also causing appellate courts to issue rulings with opposing outcomes: those that apply White protect free speech, while those that apply Yulee authorize impermissible regulation. The Supreme Court needs to fix this.”

            The case is Wolfson v. Concannon, No. 16-9. Mr. Wolfson's petition for certiorari can be found here.

James Bopp, Jr. Is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech, www.jamesmadisoncenter.org, and has a national constitutional law practice with The Bopp Law Firm, www.bopplaw.com


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