16. In the case of Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, the court ruled that a Florida law regarding the election of judges was constitutional. What are judicial candidates prohibited from doing under this law?
From Quiz Supreme Court Decisions in 2015
Answer: Personally asking their supporters for money
Williams-Yulee was reprimanded and fined for signing a fund-raising letter during her campaign for judge. The court split 5-4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the four liberals (Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Kagan and Breyer) in upholding the law. The majority applied the principle that any law limiting speech content must face strict scrutiny, meaning that the law must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. The majority felt that the state's interest in preserving public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary met the "compelling state interest" test, and Roberts concluded that "This is therefore one of the rare cases in which a speech restriction withstands strict scrutiny."
The dissenters pointed to the fact that all solicitations were banned, even solicitations from family members or others who could not possibly ever appear as a litigant in the candidate's courtroom, should she be elected. Similarly, newspaper ads, mass mailings, flyers on telephone poles, and websites addressed to the general public were all banned, as long as they contained a personal appeal for funds from the candidate. In light of this analysis, the dissenters were incredulous over how the majority could have concluded that the law in question met the "narrowly tailored" test.