In light of the Supreme Court ruling in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, some states may begin introducing and reintroducing bans on judicial candidates soliciting donations, according to Law 360.
“In the nine states that both elect judges on some level and also haven’t put in these sorts of solicitation bans, this is encouraging to them,” confirms Scott Greytak of Justice at Stake. It seems that Georgia, which had a rule similar to Florida’s overturned by a federal court in 2002, may not follow that path.
Lester Tate, chairman of the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, told the Daily Report that public confidence in the state judiciary has not “noticeably diminished” since the ban was overturned. “In our nonpartisan system, you need to have bipartisan support,” Tate says, and that has helped Georgia’s judicial elections remain relatively low key compared to other states.
Others, such as plaintiff’s attorney Ken Shigley, is worried that direct solicitation creates “an impression of justice for sale,” and could lead to a “total undermining of any confidence in the elected judiciary.”
Some, including Greytak, hope that the decision will lead more people to question the prudence of electing judges in the first place: “When the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court states definitively that judges are not the same as politicians, it raises the question of why in 39 states we choose our judges the same way we choose our politicians. We hope this opens up a broader conversation about the utility of electing judges.”
See Gavel Grab for more information on the decision, and other fair courts issues.