A three-judge federal appeals court has struck down Minnesota rules that bar judicial candidates from endorsing candidates for elective office and from directly soliciting campaign money given by individuals and small groups.
The ruling represented a major victory for lawyer Greg Wersal (photo at left), currently a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court who is running against Justice Helen Meyer, according to an article by Minnesota Lawyer Blog.
He has crusaded to eliminate limits on judicial campaigns, and the challenges that he brought “have eviscerated the framework for the vast majority of the restrictions,” according to the blog.
For the two-judge majority of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Judge Clarence Arlen Beam wrote, “[W]e think the Constitution favors strict recusal standards and fewer speech restrictions.” The opinion, released Thursday, is available by clicking here.
Judge Kermit E. Bye dissented, writing, “[W]here a state has crafted its restrictions carefully to maintain a fair and impartial judiciary, in both practice and appearance, as Minnesota has done here, the First Amendment must yield.”
“This is a major victory toward the goal of holding judges accountable through free, open and competitive elections,” Wersal declared.