Why ‘Williams-Yulee’ Matters: It’s a ‘Question of Ethics’

washington-supreme-court-building-washington-d-c-dc169It’s a “[q]uestion of ethics” that lies behind rules in a number of states that bar judicial candidates from directly soliciting donors for campaign money, attorney C. Simon Davidson writes in the “Beltway Insiders” column of Roll Call, a Washington-based publication.

Davidson relies heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent opinion in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, upholding such a ban in Florida, to explain the ethics concerns that form the basis for such rules. “Judges, charged with exercising strict neutrality and independence, cannot supplicate campaign donors without diminishing public confidence in judicial integrity,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the 5-4 majority.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on a poll it conducted with CBS News, in an article that was headlined, “Poll Shows Americans Favor an Overhaul of Campaign Financing.” In the Christian Science Monitor, another article about the poll noted that two Yale Law School professors have cited the judicial candidate direct solicitation ban as the kind of reform that political leaders could embrace for elections to executive and legislative branch offices.