Williams-Yulee v. Florida BAR

Posted: May 17, 2015 by beguide in case summaries, Free Speech


WHAT HAPPENED:  Williams-Yulee is a Florida Judge who was sanctioned by the Florida Bar for personally soliciting campaign funds during an election.  Williams-Yulee claimed that the sanctions brought down by the Florida Bar were against the First Amendment of the Constitution, since this was a prohibition against speech and campaign financing.  The Florida Bar argued that Williams-Yulee was permitted to solicit funds but could not do so directly.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT: Anytime the government stops someone from saying something, the Court applies a strict scrutiny analysis, in which the Court determines whether or not there is a compelling government interest in prohibiting campaign solicitations by the judge, and then whether Florida’s regulations are narrowly tailored to accomplish that goal.

WHAT WAS THE RULING: The Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Florida Bar.  Judge Roberts wrote the majority opinion which stated that the ruling served a compelling interest of ensuring that Judges appeared impartial to the general public, and that the regulation was narrowly tailored to that goal.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS DECISION: The decision would stand to either benefit or hinder police work in lieu of current developments in genetics and DNA testing. As science continues to develop regarding our ability to use DNA in connecting or exonerating accused defendants, the King case stood to balance the 4th Amendment against an effective way of linking defendants to crimes.  Other justices wrote opinions arguing that the test was wrong but the result was right, the test was right but the result was wrong, and just general nonsense showing that the Court has very few consistent rules when it comes to campaign financing.

THE GOOD GUYS WON IF YOU: you hate political ads that interrupt your television.

THE BAD GUYS WON IF YOU: you create the ads that interrupt television, in which case, you stink.

WHO WAS RIGHT: This decision was released before the podcast, but even still, Brett and Nazim were totally on point.

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