Judicial Reform Groups in Supreme Court

May 27, 2015

Cleary Gottlieb co-represented, pro bono, several local judicial reform groups in connection with an amicus brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar. The reform groups argued in support of the respondent bar association that regulations prohibiting judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign funds serve an important state interest in promoting public confidence in the judiciary. The Court agreed, ruling 5-4, that the Florida rule at issue in the case did not unconstitutionally restrict the petitioner’s speech. According to the Court, “Judges, charged with exercising strict neutrality and independence, cannot supplicate campaign donors without diminishing public confidence in the judiciary.” And it went on to hold that a state’s interest in avoiding this risk is “genuine and compelling” – almost exactly what the reform groups argued in their brief.