Arizona Advocacy Network

Government of, by and for the People


In the November 2012 election, the same Montana voters who gave the State’s presidential electoral votes to Republican Mitt Romney by a wide margin also approved a ballot initiative that called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Montana voters passed the ballot initiative by 75 percent to 25 percent, making Montana the 16th state to call for the 28th Amendment...

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U.S. Supreme court officials announced they will take up a Florida campaign on whether judicial candidates should be allowed to personally solicit campaign contributions.

The Florida Supreme Court this year upheld a ban on such solicitations, reiterating an earlier position that the prohibition helps in “preserving the integrity of the judiciary and maintaining the public’s confidence in an impartial judiciary.”

But attorneys for a former Hillsborough County judicial candidate, Lanell Williams-Yulee, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue, contending that the ban violates First Amendment rights related to political speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which held a behind-the-scenes meeting earlier this week to discuss cases it would hear, announced Thursday that it would take up the Florida case. The announcement did not give an explanation for the court’s decision, but attorneys for Williams-Yulee have contended the case could affect similar judicial-fundraising restrictions in other states.

The Florida case stems from a letter Williams-Yulee signed in 2009 to would-be supporters seeking contributions as she began a campaign for a Hillsborough County judgeship.

Williams-Yulee, who lost her bid to become a judge, received a reprimand in the Florida Supreme Court decision. While judicial candidates are barred from personally soliciting contributions, they can establish committees that are allowed to raise and spend money.

In asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue, attorneys for Williams-Yulee wrote in a June brief that “there is little doubt that the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in this case is wrong. (The canon of the state’s code of judicial conduct involved in the case) is a content- and speaker-based restriction on political speech; such laws rarely survive strict judicial scrutiny, and this one should not.”

The Florida Bar, which filed the complaint against Williams-Yulee, said in an August brief that it stands behind its position that judicial candidates should not be able to personally solicit contributions. But the Bar also urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue, pointing to differing positions taken by appellate courts across the country.

The News Service of Florida’s Jim Sauders contributed to this report.

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It was a custody case in Family Court last year, and custody cases are often contentious. But the contention usually does not come from the judge. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Benjamin Norris, who was voted out of office Tuesday, was on the bench as lawyers for a divorced mother and father made their arguments. The mother's attorney was trying to convince Norris that the father should not have unlimited access to his two daughters, but Norris had quashed the subpoena of the Child Protective Services caseworkers who were supposed to testify.

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Arizona Advocacy Network is pleased to provide a summary on the 2014 Judicial Retention Elections.  This handout includes which judges will be on your ballot, their rating from the Commission on Judicial Performance Review and which Governor appointed them. These judges were appointed under Arizona’s Merit Selection System, which exists in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal Counties. The remaining 12 counties elect their Superior Court judges but each county can opt into the Merit system by a vote of the people or automatically when their population reaches 250,000.

See the Handout Here!


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 Merit Selection was approved in 1974 by voters statewide to address a series of scandals and as a means to advance fair and impartial courts. Through the Merit Selection system, a non-partisan commission, chaired by the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court or designee, 10 public members and five lawyers investigate and evaluate judicial applicants. The best three candidates are then nominated to the governor who appoints one of them to fill the vacancy.


State courts across America are increasingly under attack by special interests following the Citizens United ruling. The Merit Selection system reduces the influence of interest groups and partisan politics over our courts, resulting in a judicial system that is fair and impartial for those who stand before a judge. For more information, visit the Arizona Courts Judicial Performance Review website,

Arizonans casting votes this year will mark the 40th anniversary of one of their most successful efforts to improve state government.In 1974, voters adopted a merit selection system for choosing judges for the appellate courts and the Superior Courts in our largest counties. This system incorporates public involvement, transparency and accountability. And it has allowed Arizona's judiciary to earn a national reputation for fairness, efficiency and innovation.

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