Personally Soliciting Contributions: A “Don’t” for Judicial Candidates in Florida

In an opinion released in late April, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold Florida’s ban on judicial candidates’ personal solicitation for campaign contributions. Justice Roberts noted that regulations on judicial candidate fundraising can be stricter than regulations on legislative and executive fundraising because of the judiciary’s unique role that gives rise to the state’s interest in promoting public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity.

The case of Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar reached the Supreme Court on appeal by a Tampa attorney, Lanell Williams-Yulee, who the Florida Bar reprimanded for directly soliciting judicial campaign contributions in 2009. Williams-Yulee had posted a letter online and distributed the letter “via mass mailing”. The Florida Bar prosecuted Williams-Yulee for violating Florida’s Rule of Professional Conduct 4-8.2, which requires attorneys who are candidates for judicial office to follow Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct. Florida Judicial Canon 7C(1) prohibits personal solicitations and requires the creation of a committee to seek such campaign contributions.

The opinion is important across the country because 30 states have judicial campaign fundraising regulations similar to Florida’s.

You can find more information on the opinion in this article from the Florida Bar News. To read our earlier blog post on the topic, click here.

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