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Republican Party of Minnesota v. White

Published: August 2, 2005

Repub­lican Party of Minnesota v. White
Fair Courts

In June 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that a provi­sion of Minnesota’s Code of Judi­cial Conduct that prohib­its a candid­ate for judi­cial office from discuss­ing his or her views on a polit­ical issue viol­ates the First Amend­ment. The Center’s amicus brief argued that the provi­sion helped ensure judi­cial impar­ti­al­ity.

Follow­ing the Supreme Court decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recon­sidered a number of provi­sions that had not been reviewed by the Supreme Court. The panel decision, issued in March 2004, was vacated by the Eighth Circuit sitting en banc, and rehear­ing was sched­uled for Octo­ber 2004. By permis­sion of the Court of Appeals, the Bren­nan Center submit­ted an amicus brief arguing that separ­a­tion of powers and judi­cial inde­pend­ence consid­er­a­tions milit­ated in favor of uphold­ing provi­sions that limited partisan polit­ical activ­ity by judges and candid­ates for the bench.

On August 2, 2005, the Eighth Circuit, sitting en banc, held uncon­sti­tu­tional Minnesota’s canons limit­ing judges’ and judi­cial candid­ates’ partisan polit­ical activ­it­ies. It also held that Minnesota may not prohibit judi­cial candid­ates from person­ally soli­cit­ing campaign funds through soli­cit­a­tion letters or appeals to large gath­er­ings. The members of Minnesota’s Board on Judi­cial Stand­ards filed a peti­tion seek­ing Supreme Court review of this decision, but the Court denied the peti­tion.

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