University of Denver

Ninth Circuit Holds Montana Political Endorsement Ban Unconstitutional (Updated)

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked a state law barring political party endorsements of judicial candidates. While holding that the state has “a compelling interest in maintaining a fair and independent judiciary,” the majority found that the state need not restrict speech to accomplish this. The two candidates for an open supreme court seat in November said they will not accept party endorsements because the code of judicial conduct forbids it.