Editor’s note: Most Arizona judges are chosen and retained under the state’s judicial merit system.
Almost five years to the day after the Citizens United decision reshaped American politics, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will turn its attention to judicial elections.
Such contests already sometimes resemble regular political campaigns, awash in money and negative advertising. And judges already routinely hear cases involving lawyers and litigants who have contributed to their campaigns.
But 30 of the 39 states with judicial elections have tried to draw the line by forbidding judicial candidates to personally ask for money, saying that such solicitations threaten the integrity of the judiciary and public confidence in the judicial system.
Comments by Hugh Hallman, chairman of Rose Law Group Litigation Department and election attorney:
“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 in Caperton v Massey significant contributions in a judicial race violated due process. That opinion demonstrates the court’s willingness, through the judicial branch, to place limits on campaign contributions to judicial candidates and those serving in quasi-judicial capacities, such as members of Arizona’s Corporation Commission.
“This new case, whichever way the court goes, will shed light on the ‘line’ the court seeks to draw between acceptable and questionable campaign fundraising activities.”
Arizona’s Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 4, Rule 4.1, (A)(6) states that a judge or judicial candidate may NOT “personally solicit or accept campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee authorized by rule 4.4.”
Rule 4.4 states, “A judicial candidate subject to public election shall direct his or her campaign committee to solicit and accept only such campaign contributions as are permissible by law and to comply with all applicable statutory requirements for disclosure and divestiture of campaign contributions.”
“Obviously this provision is rather circular. However, the ‘Comment’ on this provision states ‘judicial candidates are prohibited from personally soliciting campaign contributions or personally accepting campaign contributions. Comment 1 to Rule 4.4 Campaign Committees.”
Read entire Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct