Wolfson v. Concannon

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 01-27-2016
  • Case #: 11-17634
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Circuit Judges O’Scannlain, Garber, Fletcher, Tallman, Rawlinson, Callahan, Christen, Hurwitz, and Chief Judge Thomas; Concurrence by Circuit Judge Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

Restrictions placed on a candidate's ability to solicit for his own campaign and endorse other candidate's campaigns does not violate freedom of association and speech if the regulations are narrowly tailored to the legitimate state interest of safeguarding public confidence in elected officials.

In 2009 Randolph Wolfson filed a complaint against the commissioners of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Chief Bar Counsel (the Commission). Wolfson alleges that campaign regulations restricting his ability to personally solicit funds for his own campaign or another’s campaign and to publicly endorse other candidates for public office, or take part in other candidate’s campaigns violated his First Amendment right of association and speech. The district court granted summary judgment for the Commission and found that intermediate scrutiny was the appropriate standard of review. On review the panel found that Arizona’s interest in “safeguarding public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the nation’s elected judges” was compelling. The panel also addressed Wolfson’s complaint alleging that the solicitation restrictions were overbroad and not narrowly tailored to the government’s interest. The panel found that the regulations were narrowly tailored to the state’s interest because it was limited only to methods that could erode public confidence. The panel held that the endorsement regulations were not under inclusive because states are allowed to focus on their most pressing concerns when making regulations. The panel also held that the endorsement regulations were not over inclusive because it was limited only in relation to a candidate’s own campaign. The panel finally held that the endorsement regulations were narrowly tailored because a more extensive recusal record could erode public confidence, exactly what the regulations seek to prevent. AFFIRMED.

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