Thursday, January 29, 2015

Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar: Free Speech is Worth Full Protection

While we may not agree with all speech we come across, it is important for liberty-minded individuals to defend all constitutionally protected speech. If we do not protect speech that we may not agree with, or that is of limited importance to us, there will be fewer people willing to defend speech that we care deeply about. Also, once the Supreme Court rules some speech can be restricted and still withstand constitutional scrutiny, it becomes easier for the Court to rule other speech can be restricted as well.

On January 20 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar. This case is important because the petitioner (Williams-Yulee) is appealing to the Supreme Court to protect her free speech right to personally ask for campaign funds when running for judicial office. This case is especially important because around half of the states currently ban personal solicitations by judicial candidates and there is a split within the state and circuit courts over whether the First Amendment allows such bans.

The origin of this case was Hillsborough County (Tampa) Florida in 2009, when Lanell Williams-Yulee decided to run for a judicial position in the county. As part of her campaign, she approved and signed a mass mailing that asked for funds to help her run her campaign. The Florida Bar deemed that by doing so she violated a rule against “personally soliciting campaign contributions.” The Referee handling the case decided that she should be publicly reprimanded and pay around $1,800 to cover the costs of bringing the case against her.

The case was then appealed to the Florida Supreme Court where Ms. Williams-Yulee argued the ban on personally soliciting campaign funds improperly limited her right to free speech. The Florida Supreme Court agreed that the ban clearly did restrict free speech but ruled against Ms. Williams-Yulee because the ban passed their strict scrutiny test.



Bird of Paradise said...

Protect our constitutional rights from the PC leftists scumbags

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting case as it is not the government telling the plaintiff she cannot solicit funds during a campaign, but the Florida Bar Association - what is essentially a trade group.

Can a union tell its members what they can and cannot say? Can a union prohibit a person from working on non-union jobs for example?

The second question that has to be asked is "do we want judges taking money from people in order to get elected; people that may stand in front of them someday in a trial?

I am not sure that I want to have a case settled by a judge who was given money to be elected by the guy sitting at the other table.

I can see the need for the rule (not a law - a rule) and support it.

Anonymous said...

Why not just let her ask for anything she wants, and then disqualify her if she wins the election? Wouldn't that achieve the same goal but preserve her liberty?