Is the prohibition on judicial candidates soliciting campaign contributions directly constitutional??

In The Florida Bar v. Lanell Williams-Yulee, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the disciplinary sanctions imposed on Ms. Williams-Yulee, a candidate for Judge in Hillborough County, Florida. (138 So. 3d 379). She was sanctioned for personally soliciting campaign contributions in violation of Canon 7C (1) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. Williams-Yulee argued that the Canon was unconstitutional on first amendment grounds, but the Florida Supreme Court upheld the public reprimand in her case.

Since the decision in May, 2014, both the Florida Bar and Ms. WIlliams-Yulee have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Canon 7C (1). The Florida Bar notes that over 20 states have similar judicial campaign rules. (See Florida Bar News, September 15, 2014 at page 21).

Of course, some of us would argue that the entire system of electing state judges is problematic, and this is but one of the myriad issues that compromises the system. But we will need to watch to see if the U.S. Supreme Court takes the case.

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