Republican Party Of Minnesota v. White

536 U.S. 765 (2002)


Since 1974, judges running for office in Minnesota have been subject to a legal restriction which states that a 'candidate for a judicial office, including an incumbent judge,' shall not 'announce his or her views on disputed legal or political issues.' Incumbent judges who violate it are subject to discipline, including removal, censure, civil penalties, and suspension without pay. Lawyers who run for judicial office also must comply with the announce clause. P ran for associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. P distributed literature criticizing several Minnesota Supreme Court decisions on issues such as crime, welfare, and abortion. A bar complaint was filed against P. The Lawyers Board dismissed the complaint. Fearing that further ethical complaints would jeopardize his ability to practice law, P withdrew from the election. In 1998, P ran again and sought an advisory opinion from the Lawyers Board. It responded equivocally stating that P had not submitted a list of the announcements he wished to make. P filed this lawsuit in Federal District Court seeking a declaration that the announce clause violates the First Amendment and an injunction against its enforcement. The District Court found in favor of D holding that the announce clause did not violate the First Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.