Groups Concerned About Judicial Integrity Urge Ninth Circuit to Rehear Case Striking Down Judicial Campaign Laws


Yesterday, the Campaign Legal Center joined with other nonprofit groups concerned with the integrity of the courts in filing an amici curiae brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review en banc Wolfson v. Concannon, in which a three-judge circuit panel struck down Arizona rules for judicial conduct as applied to non-judge candidates, but left those rules standing for incumbent judicial candidates.

The three-judge panel struck down Arizona’s ban on judicial candidates personally soliciting political contributions, as well as its ban on judicial candidates endorsing, speaking in favor of or campaigning for non-judicial candidates—but only as these bans apply to non-judge candidates.

“Public trust in the judicial process is vital to the public’s faith in the courts, and the decision of the three-judge panel not only flies in the face of precedent, but also seriously threatens to undermine public trust in the judicial branch,” said Paul S. Ryan, Senior Counsel for The Campaign Legal Center.  “The ruling creates patently unfair electoral system where candidates running head-to-head for the same judicial office are subject to completely different sets of rules and begs a rehearing by the full Ninth Circuit.”

The brief filed by the legal and judicial organizations in support of the State of Arizona raise other issues with the decision including the standard of scrutiny applied by the three-judge panel and warning that if let stand the opinion will spur a run of challenges on laws in other states within the Ninth Circuit.  

The other groups signing the brief included the Brennan Center for Justice, the Arizona Judges’ Association, the American Judicature Society and Justice at Stake.  Randolph Sherman and Robert Grass of Kate Scholer LLP are serving as attorneys for amici curiae.

To read the brief, click here.