Williams-Yulee v Florida Bar

Williams-Yulee was reprimanded and fined for soliciting campaign donations for her judicial campaign. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the sanction holding the ban on personal solicitation did not violate free speech rights. The Court, resolving a split of appellate authority, 5-4, affirmed. A plurality argued that the solicitation ban must be evaluated under strict scrutiny. The majority held the ban served the compelling state interest of maintaining public confidence in the independence and integrity of the elected judiciary, is not under inclusive as it aims at the key danger of personal solicitation and is narrowly tailored given a recusal model would raise the specter of corruption and in many jurisdictions close the courts. The majority emphasized the judges even those running for office are not politicians following public opinion but rather jurists who follow the law and this justifies different treatment for candidates for judicial office. Justice Breyer added a brief concurrence rejecting mechanical application of scrutiny tiers. Justice Ginsberg, joined by Breyer in part, argued that judicial elections are different, states should be allowed to regulate these elections and recent elections in Iowa and North Carolina among others show the influence is real and destructive. Justice Scalia, joined by Thomas, filed a dissent arguing that the ban is content based regulation of speech and it failed strict scrutiny as there was no evidence that the ban advanced in any significant way the interest in an impartial judiciary, is aimed at outsiders and is thus a quintessential violation of free speech, is overinclusive in that in bans sonication of one’s parents and others who will never appear before the judge, is underinclusive as judicial candidates can ask for favors so long as they’re not contributions and in any event the bans are recent innovations and once elections are chosen as the means to select judges, fundraising come with that choice. Justice Kennedy added a dissent arguing that the majority wrongly limits judicial candidates’ speech which is about the core public speech of electing officials and wrongly intrudes on elections as a key means of educating the electorate. He argued the majority muse feel that the public is incapable of wisely choosing judges, but, this is not a basis to gut free speech rights and give a blueprint on how to suppress speech a majority of justices dislike. Justice Alito added a dissent arguing that the ban is overbroad and if it is an example of narrowly tailored, strict scrutiny is impaired as a means of protecting speech.

Mach Mining, LLC v Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Mach moved to dismiss Commission’s case against it for failing to informally conciliate as required by statute. The district court agreed, but, the 7th Circuit reversed holding the conciliation efforts cannot be judicially reviewed. Resolving a circuit split, the Court reversed. It held that the mandatory conciliation requirement is a prerequisite to filing a Title VII claim and similar prerequisites are subject to review and it makes no sense to not allow review, which is the normal not the exception, to occur. It also held that the statute provides a standard for reviewing claims namely the commission must inform the defendant of the claim and offer an opportunity to discuss voluntary compliance with title VII. The Court held that the review is limited to the issue of whether communication and conciliation happened. In doing so, the Court rejected Mach’s argument that review should be more like court involvement in collective bargaining disputes as that is contrary to the discretion given to Commission under the statute and the confidentiality imposed on the conciliation process.