Op-Ed: Williams-Yulee Does Not Signal Greater Change

Any optimism from campaign finance reformers in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Williams-Yulee is misplaced, according to a recent op-ed in the Sacramento Bee. The case details were too specific and the decision too narrow, law school professor Jessica A. Levinson says.

“It is important to remember that plenty of unbecoming behavior is still allowed. Judicial candidates can still run ads asking for money. They can still know the identity of their campaign donors, and they can still personally thank those donors. The judicial candidates just cannot actually hold out their hands and accept the donations. They must deploy others to do that.”

Judicial elections have some serious problems, eroding public confidence in the judiciary, for instance, and Levinson says the ruling does nothing to fix any of them. “There is nothing in the opinion to indicate that the chief justice would uphold a restriction that could actually do what the majority purports to worry about – uphold the integrity of the judicial process.”

For more background on the Williams-Yulee decision, see Gavel Grab.