Judicial Campaign Restrictions Subject of Ohio Lawsuit

An Ohio judge is suing state officials over campaigning restrictions which she says puts her at a disadvantage in elections.

Colleen O’Toole already announced her candidacy in the 2016 Supreme Court election, but restrictions on fundraising and other campaign activities prevent her from doing much early self-promotion. The Columbus Dispatch explains that judicial campaigns are prohibited from raising money until 120 days before the primary. O’Toole is suing Justice Maureen O’Connor and two others, claiming that this and other regulations violate her First Amendment rights.

“The lawsuit asserts that the section [of the Code of Judicial Conduct] serves to illegally allow judges with leftover campaign funds to spend money to promote themselves and their candidacies while others are locked out of fundraising,” the article explains. O’Toole announced her candidacy with only $94 in her war chest, while another prospective candidate has nearly a quarter million leftover from previous elections.

O’Toole also took issue with a section of the code which prohibits judicial candidates from directly soliciting money. This question is being deliberated by the U.S. Supreme Court this term in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida State Bar.