Chief Justice Roberts, in ‘Williams-Yulee,’ Weighing Legacy?

Chief Justice Roberts
Chief Justice Roberts

Even the London-based Economist has something to say about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Williams-Yulee vs. The Florida Bar, upholding a Florida ban on direct campaign cash solicitation by judicial candidates.

An Economist article summarizes Chief Justice John Roberts’s “rollicking” majority opinion, suggests that the practical implications of the ruling are “frankly modest” and delves into Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dissent. The piece concludes:

“Chief Justice Roberts is clearly considering the legacy of his court. The majority opinion in Williams-Yulee is, more than anything else, a sign of his fervent desire to cultivate the appearance of impartiality in America’s judiciary, including and especially its highest court.”

In other commentary and analysis, reports, “U.S. Supreme Court upholds restrictions on judicial candidates, unlikely to change Wisconsin elections”; a Tampa Bay Times op-ed headline says, “Ruling shores up judiciary’s integrity”; and Doug Clark blogs for the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record about the decision.

Clark writes, “North Carolina leaders should pay attention, because they’ve been moving our courts in exactly the opposite direction — eliminating public campaign financing, allowing judicial candidates to personally raise more money from private interests, and working to restore partisan elections. All those actions will, or should, erode public confidence in the impartiality of our courts.”