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Judicial Campaigns and Elections

Campaign Conduct

Alabama

According to Canon 7 of the Alabama's canons of judicial ethics, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make any promise of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of their duties.

  • Announce in advance their conclusions of law on pending litigation.

  • Knowingly misrepresent their identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact.

  • Disseminate false information concerning themselves or their opponents, either knowing the information to be false or with reckless disregard of whether that information is false. 

Candidates are strongly discouraged from personally soliciting campaign contributions. It is highly recommended that they establish campaign committees to solicit and accept campaign contributions, manage campaign funds, and obtain public statements of support. Such committees may not solicit or accept campaign contributions more than one year prior to the election or 120 days after that election.

In the past, Canon 7 also addressed disseminating true information that would be deceiving or misleading to a reasonable person. However, as a result of a dispute that arose during the 2000 elections, this portion of Canon 7 was declared "unconstitutionally overbroad." The Republican primary for the chief justice nomination pitted Judge Roy Moore against Justice Harold See. Some of See's campaign materials depicted Moore as being "soft on crime." Moore filed a complaint with the judicial campaign oversight committee less than a week before the primary. The complaint before the committee became moot when Moore won the primary, but the judicial inquiry commission issued a three-count complaint against See, accusing him of false and misleading campaign ads. Under the state constitution, See was suspended until the matter could be resolved. See filed suit in federal district court asserting a violation of his constitutional rights. The court temporarily enjoined enforcement of the provision of the canons of judicial ethics that prohibits knowing or reckless distribution of false information and distribution of true information that would be misleading or deceiving to a reasonable person, ruling that the provision "does not allow for erroneous but unintentional or innocent statements." Butler v. Judicial Inquiry Commission, 111 F.Supp.2d 1224 (M.D.Ala. 2000). On appeal, the court of appeals certified questions regarding procedures in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to the Alabama Supreme Court before making a determination of whether the court of the judiciary provided an adequate forum for a judicial candidate to raise a federal constitutional challenge to judicial canons. The court of appeals also invited the Alabama Supreme Court to remedy any federal constitutional defects in the canons. 245 F.3d 1257 (11th Cir. 2001). In May 2001, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of dissemination of true information that would be misleading or deceiving to a reasonable person was unconstitutionally overbroad. The court narrowed the rule to prohibit dissemination of demonstrably false information regarding judicial candidates or opponents with actual malice. In August 2001, the court of appeals ruled that the case should have been heard in state court and that the district court erred in not dismissing the case. 261 F.3d 1154 (11th Cir. 2001). The judicial inquiry commission dropped the charges against Justice See in March 2002.

Alaska

According to Canon 5 of Alaska's code of judicial conduct, judges who are seeking retention shall not:

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them to a particular view or decision with respect to matters likely to come before the court.
  • Knowingly misrepresent any fact concerning themselves or opposing candidates for office.
  • Personally solicit or accept funds to support their candidacy or personally solicit publicly stated support.

When there is active opposition to a judge's retention, the judge may form an election committee to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions and solicit and obtain public statements of support.

In 2004, the Alaska Right to Life Political Action Committee challenged the constitutionality of the "pledges and promises" clause and the "commit" clause, maintaining that these restrictions chilled judicial candidates from responding to a questionnaire soliciting their views on various public issues, such as abortion and assisted suicide. In 2005, a federal district court struck down both provisions as violative of the First Amendment rights of the candidates. In 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's decision, ruling that the case was not ripe for review since there was no evidence that a judge would reasonably risk discipline by responding. Alaska Right to Life Political Action Committee v. Feldman, 05-35902 (9th Cir. 2007).

Arizona

According to Canon 4 of Arizona's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court.
  • Misrepresent the indentity, qualifications, present position, or other fact about themselves or their opponents.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee.

Arkansas

According to Canon 4 of Arkansas' code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • In connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office.
  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court.
  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee.
  • Publicly identify themselves as candidates of a political organization.
Candidates may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of funds for the campaign, and obtain public statements of support other than from political parties. Candidate committees may not solicit contributions and public support earlier than 180 days before an election or later than 45 days after the last contested election in which the candidate participates.

In 2007, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the code's prohibition on personally soliciting campaign contributions, ruling that judicial impartiality and avoiding the appearance of impropriety were compelling interests and that the prohibition was narrowly tailored to achieve those interests. Simes v. Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission, 06-725 (January 25, 2007).

In 1991, an Arkansas federal court struck down as unconstitutionally overbroad and vague a provision of the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct that prevented candidates from announcing their "views on disputed legal or political issues." Beshear v. Butt, 863 F.Supp. 913 (E.D.Ark. 1994). The case involved a judge who made a campaign pledge that plea bargaining was unacceptable to him and would not be allowed in his court.

California

According to Canon 5 of California's code of judicial ethics, judicial candidates shall not:

  • Make statements that commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that could come before the courts.
  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.

In 1986, California voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment (Proposition 49) that proscribed political party endorsements in elections for nonpartisan offices. The provision was ruled unconstitutional in 1990 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Geary v. Renne, 911 F.2d 280 (9th Cir. 1990)(en banc), but the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case as not ripe for review. The provision was again declared unconstitutional by a federal district judge in California Democratic Party v. Lungren, 919 F. Supp. 1397 (N.D. Cal. 1996).

Colorado

Under Canon 7 of Colorado's code of judicial conduct, judicial retention candidates should not:

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Announce how they would rule on cases or issues that might come before them.
  • Misrepresent their identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign funds.

Judicial retention candidates should abstain from campaign activities unless there is active opposition to their retention in office. Nonpartisan committees organized to advocate a judge's retention may raise funds for the judge's campaign, but judges should not be advised of the source of the funds such committees raise.

Connecticut

According to Connecticut's code of probate judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:

  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court.
  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions.

Delaware

Judges do not stand for election in Delaware.

District of Columbia

Judges do not stand for election in the District of Columbia.

Federal

N/A

Florida

According to Canon 7 of Florida's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • With respect to parties or classes of parties, cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.
  • While a proceeding is pending or impending in any court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness or make any nonpublic comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing.
  • Personally solicit campaign contributions or solicit attorneys for publicly stated support. However, candidates may establish campaign committees to secure and manage campaign funds and obtain public statements of support.

Judicial candidates standing for retention may engage in only limited campaign activities until they certify that their candidacy has drawn active opposition.

In 1990, a federal district court declared unconstitutional a provision of the code of judicial conduct that barred judicial candidates from announcing their views on disputed legal or political issues. The court nevertheless acknowledged the state's interest in preserving the integrity and objectivity of its judiciary. American Civil Liberties Union v. The Florida Bar, 744 F.Supp. 1094 (N.D. Fla. 1990). In 1995, another code provision was challenged by the ACLU and struck down by a federal court. The impugned rule had prohibited judicial candidates from expending funds for their campaigns or establishing committees to solicit contributions and support earlier than one year before the general election. Zeller v. The Florida Bar and the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, 909 F.Supp. 1518 (N.D. Fla. 1995).

Under Florida law, judicial candidates shall not campaign as a member of a political party or accept contributions from a political party. In 1978, a federal district court struck down as a violation of the First Amendment a statute that barred political parties from supporting, endorsing, or assisting judicial candidates. Concerned Democrats of Florida v. Reno, 458 F.Supp. 60 (S.D. Fla. 1978).

Georgia

According to Canon 7 of Georgia's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make statements that commit them with respect to issues likely to come before the court.

  • Use or participate in the publication of a false statement of fact concerning themselves or their candidacies, or concerning any opposing candidate or candidacy, with knowledge of the statement's falsity or with reckless disregard for the statement's truth or falsity.

Judicial candidates are permitted to personally solicit and accept campaign contributions and personally solicit publicly stated support. However, candidates are encouraged to form committees to manage campaign funds and obtain public statements of support.

in 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held unconstitutional two provisions of the code: a prohibition on candidates personally soliciting campaign contributions and a prohibition on using or participating in the public communication of false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or misrepresentative material. Weaver v. Bonner, 309 F.3d 1312 (11th Cir. 2002).

 

Hawaii

Judges do not stand for election in Hawaii.

Idaho

According to Canon 5 of Idaho's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.

  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court.

  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponent.

  • Personally solicit campaign contributions.

Candidates may establish a committee to solicit and accept campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of campaign funds, and obtain public statements of support. Candidate committees may not solicit contributions and public support earlier than one year before the election or later than 90 days after the last election in which the candidate participates.

According to the Idaho Constitution, judges shall not be nominated or endorsed by political parties.

Illinois

According to Canon 7 of Illinois' code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues within cases that are likely to come before the court.
  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or an opponent.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions.

Candidates may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept contributions, manage campaign funds, and obtain public statements of support. Committees may solicit contributions and public support no earlier than one year before the election and no later than 90 days after the last election in which the candidate participates.

Earlier restrictions on judicial candidate speech were struck down as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech by a federal court of appeals. In 1991, state court judges challenged a rule that prohibited judicial candidates from making pledges or promises of conduct in office and from announcing their views on disputed legal or political issues. According to the court, the rule "reache[d] far beyond speech that could reasonably be interpreted as committing the candidate in a way that would compromise his impartiality should he be successful in the election." Buckley v. Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, 997 F.2d 224 (7th Cir. 1993).

Indiana

According to Canon 4 of Indiana's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • In connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement.

  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending* or impending* in any court.

  • Publicly identify themselves as members or candidates of a political organization.

  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions.

Candidates may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept reasonable contributions, manage the expenditure of funds for the campaign, and obtain public statements of support. Candidate committees may solicit contributions and public support no earlier than one year before an election and no later than 90 days after the last election in which the candidate participates.

Incumbent judges who are candidates for retention and whose candidacy has drawn active opposition may campaign in response and may obtain publicly stated support and campaign funds in accordance with the code of judicial conduct. In Lake County, political parties are barred from directly or indirectly campaigning for or against superior court judges who are standing for retention.

In 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated a lower court decision striking down Indiana's "pledges and promises" and "commit" clauses as violative of the First Amendment. In Indiana Right to Life v. Shepard (06-4333, October 26, 2007), the court held that IRL did not have standing to challenge the provisions because they had not proven that any judicial candidates felt constrained by the clauses from responding to the group's questionnaire.

In July 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana upheld the constitutionality of provisions of the code that prohibit judges and judicial candidates from making pledges, promises, and commitments, and from personally soliciting and accepting campaign contributions. Bauer v. Shepard (July 7, 2009). The court held that these restrictions were justified by "values important to the administration of justice (such as judicial fairness, impartiality, independence, integrity, and competence, the principles of justice, and the rule of law)." In August 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed. Bauer v. Shepard (August 20, 2010).

Iowa

According to Canon 4 of Iowa's code of judicial conduct, judges who are candidates for retention shall not:

  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement.
  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a pending matter or impending matter in any court.
  • In connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee.

Candidates for retention may establish campaign committees to manage and conduct their campaigns.

Kansas

According to Canon 4 of Kansas' code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement.

  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court.

  • In connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.

In 2006, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the "pledges and promises" and "commit" clauses, as well as the prohibition on personally soliciting campaign contributions and public support. Kansas Judicial Watch v. Stout, 440 F.Supp.2d 1209 (D.Kan. 2006). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit vacated the injunction as it related to the public support restriction in the solicitation clause, finding that the district court's order went beyond the scope of the plaintiff's challenge. In Yost v. Stout (D.Kan. 2008), another federal judge held unconstitutional the prohibition on personally soliciting campaign contributions. These clauses were omitted when the code was amended in 2009.

Candidates for retention may establish a campaign committee no earlier than one year before the retention election. Campaign committees of candidates for both retention and partisan election may not solicit or accept campaign contributions more than one year before the election, or more than 90 days after the election.

Kentucky

According to Canon 5 of Kentucky's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Intentionally or recklessly make statements that a reasonable person would perceive as committing them to rule a certain way on cases, controversies, or issues likely to come before the court.

  • Misrepresent any candidate's identity, qualifications, present position, or other facts.

  • Identify themselves as members of a political party in any form of advertising or when speaking to a gathering. Candidates may only identify themselves as members of a particular political party in answer to a direct question.

  • Solicit campaign funds. However, they may establish campaign committees to secure and manage the expenditure of campaign funds and to obtain public statements of support. Campaign committees may not solicit funds earlier than 180 days before the primary election or after the general election.

In 1991, the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down as violative of the First Amendment a provision of the code of judicial conduct that barred judicial candidates from announcing their views on "disputed legal or political issues." According to the court, the provision was overly broad since it "prohibit[ed] dialogue on virtually every issue that would be of interest to the voting public." J.C.J.D. v. R.J.C.R., 803 S.W.2d 953 (Ky. 1991). The supreme court responded by adopting the "commit" clause, which was upheld by the Kentucky high court in 1994. Deters v. Judicial Retirement and Removal Board, 873 S.W.2d 200 (Ky. 1994).

In 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky held that the Kentucky version of the commit clause was constitutional, but that the personal solicitation clause and restrictions on partisan activity by judges and judicial candidates were unconstitutional. Carey v. Wolnitzek, Opinion and order (October 15, 2008). On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the holding that the solicitation clause and the party affiliation clause were unconstitutional; it also held that the commits clause was constitutional as it applies to cases and controversies but that its application to issues was materially ambiguous. (6th Cir. July 13, 2010).

Louisiana

According to Canon 7 of Louisiana's code of judicial conduct, judges and judicial candidates shall not:
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.

  • Knowingly make, or cause to be made, false statements concerning the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.

  • While a proceeding is pending in any Louisiana state court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness. 

  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions. Candidates may, however, establish committees to conduct their campaigns, including soliciting and accepting contributions.

Maine

According to Canon 5 of Maine's code of judicial conduct, probate court candidates shall not:

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court
  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions or personally solicit publicly stated support.

Maryland

According to Canon 5 of Maryland's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:

  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make commitments, pledges, or promises that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly misrepresent their own identity or qualifications, those of their opponent, or any other fact.

Massachusetts

Judges do not stand for election in Massachusetts.

Michigan

According to Canon 7 of Michigan's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates should not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.

  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard, use or participate in the use of any form of public communication that is false.

  • Personally solicit or accept campaign funds or solicit publicly stated support by improper use of the judicial office.

Candidates may establish committees to secure and manage campaign funds and obtain public statements of support. Committees are prohibited from soliciting contributions from lawyers in excess of $100 per lawyer. Committees may not solicit campaign funds earlier than February 15 of the year of the election and may not solicit or accept funds after the date of the general election.

In 2000, the Michigan Supreme Court struck down as overly broad a provision of the code of judicial conduct that barred judicial candidates from making misleading statements. In re Chmura, 608 N.W.2d 31 (Mich. 2001).

Minnesota

According to Canon 5 of Minnesota's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:

  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges or promises that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent the identity, qualifications, expressed position or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.
  • By words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice inappropriate to judicial office.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions.

In 1998, a supreme court candidate and the Republican Party of Minnesota filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of provisions of Canon 5 relating to candidates announcing their views on disputed legal or political issues, personally soliciting campaign contributions, and affiliating themselves with political parties. The federal district court upheld the provisions, 63 F.Supp.2d 967 (D. Minn. 1999), and the court of appeals affirmed, 247 F.3d 854 (8th Cir. 2001). The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari on the question of whether the so-called "announce clause" violated the First Amendment, and in 2002, the Court struck down the clause as unconstitutional. Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002). Supporters of the decision assert that allowing judicial candidates to share their views will provide voters with much-needed information, but critics worry that it will threaten judges' impartiality. In 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit struck down Minnesota canons that prohibited judges from soliciting contributions (insofar as it prohibits a judicial candidate from soliciting contributions from large groups and transmitting solicitations above their personal signatures), identifying their political party affiliation, attending political gatherings, and seeking political party endorsement, 416 F.3d 738 (8th Cir. 2005). In a subsequent challenge, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit held unconstitutional three additional clauses, including the personal solicitation clause as it applied to the plaintiff's desire to solicit contributions door-to-door from non-attorneys. Wersal v. Sexton (8th Cir. July 29, 2010).

Mississippi

According to Canon 5 of Mississippi's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court
  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions or personally solicit publicly stated support. However, they may establish committees to conduct their campaigns. Campaign committees may not accept contributions more than 60 days before the qualifying deadline or later than 120 days after the last election in which the candidate participates during the election year.

In addition, the Nonpartisan Judicial Election Act prohibits judicial candidates from campaigning or qualifying for office based on party affiliation and from accepting contributions from political parties. Judicial candidates are also barred from aligning themselves with political parties.

A 1999 amendment to the Nonpartisan Judicial Election Act prohibited political parties from contributing to or endorsing judicial candidates. This provision was struck down by a federal court in 2002 as a violation of the First Amendment.

Missouri

According to Canon 5 of Missouri's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Misrepresent their identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact.
  • Solicit or accept campaign funds in a courthouse or on courthouse grounds.
  • Solicit in person campaign funds from persons likely to appear before them as judges. However, candidates may make a written campaign solicitation for campaign funds of any person or group, including those likely to appear before them as judges.

Candidates may establish campaign committees to secure and manage campaign funds. Judges who are candidates for retention or who are running unopposed for reelection, and whose candidacy has drawn active opposition, may campaign in response.

Montana

According to Montana's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:

  • Publicly identify themselves as candidates of a political organization.
  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement.
  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court.
  • In connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.

Montana law prohibits political parties from endorsing, contributing to, or making expenditures to support or oppose judicial candidates. Judicial candidates may establish campaign committees to manage and conduct their campaigns.

Nebraska

According to Canon 4 of Nebraska's code of judicial conduct, judges who are seeking retention in office shall not:

  • In connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office.
  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of any matter pending or impending in any court.
  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaing contributions other than through a campaign committee.

Candidates subject to retention may form campaign committees to manage and conduct their campaigns when there is active opposition to their retention. Such committees may not solicit or accept contributions earlier than six months before the election or later than 30 days after the election.

The judicial ethics committee may express an opinion on proper judicial conduct with respect to the code of judicial conduct at the request of a judge or candidate for judicial office, at the request of a court or the commission on judicial qualifications, or on its own initiative. The committee may also recommend amendments to the code to the supreme court.

Nevada

According to Canon 4 of Nevada's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:

  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement.
  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court.
  • In connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.

Judicial candidates are permitted to personally solicit and accept campaign contributions and personally solicit publicly stated support. However, candidates are encouraged to form committees to solicit and accept contributions and conduct campaigns. Judicial candidates may also identify themselves as members of a political party upon request.

Candidates who are not opposed in an election must not solicit or accept campaign contributions, either personally or through a committee. Candidates who are opposed and their committees may solicit or accept contributions no earlier than 5 p.m. on the last day for filing a declaration of candidacy for judicial office and no later than 90 days after the last election in which the candidate participates during the election year. (In 2007, the legislature moved the two-week filing period for judicial candidates from May to the first two weeks of January.)

New Hampshire

Judges do not stand for election in New Hampshire.

New Jersey

Judges do not stand for election in New Jersey.

New Mexico

According to New Mexico's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:

  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other material fact concerning themselves or their opponents. 

Judicial candidates are required to "refrain from campaign fund-raising activity which has the appearance of impropriety" and to establish campaign committees to conduct campaigns and manage campaign funds. Judicial candidates may solicit contributions for their own campaigns, but they may not solicit or accept contributions from attorneys or parties in cases pending before them. Campaign committees are barred from knowingly soliciting contributions from litigants with pending cases before the candidate, and they are not to disclose to the candidate the sources of the funds they raise.

New York

According to Canon 5 of New York’s rules governing judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly make any false statement or misrepresent the identity, qualifications, current position or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions.

Candidates may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, manage campaign funds, and obtain public statements of support. Committees may not solicit or accept contributions or support except during the candidate's "window period" as defined in the rules governing judicial conduct. (This window period starts nine months before the earliest date on which the candidate may secure the nomination and ends six months after the termination of the candidacy.)

In 2003, New York's state and federal courts heard challenges to the constitutionality of various provisions of the state's rules governing judicial conduct. In February 2003, in Spargo v. New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a federal district court judge struck down as unconstitutionally vague canon provisions that require judges to adhere to high standards of conduct, to act in a manner that promotes public confidence, and to refrain from most political activity. In June 2003, in Matter of Raab and Matter of Watson, the New York Court of Appeals confirmed the constitutionality of canon provisions that bar active judges from engaging in partisan politics and prohibit judicial candidates from making promises to voters that interfere with the impartial administration of justice. According to the court, these provisions are narrowly drawn to meet a legitimate interest. In December 2003, a federal appeals court vacated the Spargo decision and ruled that the federal district court should have deferred to the pending state disciplinary proceeding. 244 F.Supp.2d 72 (2nd Cir. 2003).

North Carolina

According to Canon 7 of North Carolina's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates should not intentionally and knowingly misrepresent their identity or qualifications. The code was revised in 2003. Under the previous version of Canon 7, judges could not personally solicit campaign contributions or request public support, or make pledges or promises of conduct in office. 

Even though judicial elections are nonpartisan, candidates are permitted to identify themselves as members of political parties and attend and speak at political gatherings.

North Dakota

According to Canon 5 of North Dakota's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.

  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or any other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.

  • Directly and personally solicit or accept campaign contributions or directly and personally solicit publicly stated support.

Candidates may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of funds for the campaign, and obtain public statements of support. Candidate committees may not solicit contributions and public support earlier than one year before the election or later than 90 days after the last election in which the candidate participates.

Ohio

According to Canon 4 of Ohio's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court.
  • In connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or an opponent.
  • Personally solicit or receive campaign funds.

There are two exceptions to the prohibition against personally soliciting or receiving campaign funds that allow candidates to (1) make a general request for campaign contributions when speaking to an audience of twenty or more individuals, and (2) sign letters soliciting campaign contributions if the letters are for distribution by the candidate’s campaign committee and direct contributions to be sent to the campaign committee. The time period for raising and receiving campaign funds is limited to 120 days prior to the election and 120 days after the general election.

Even though judicial elections are nominally nonpartisan, judicial candidates may reference their party affiliation in campaign advertising.

Oklahoma

According to Canon 5 of Oklahoma's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates should not:
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.

  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.

  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions or solicit public support. 

Candidates may establish campaign committees to conduct campaigns, solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of campaign funds, and obtain public statements of support. Candidate committees may not solicit contributions and public support earlier than 90 days before an election filing period or later than 30 days after the last election in which the candidate participates.

Judges who are candidates for retention or who are running unopposed for reelection, and whose candidacy has drawn active opposition, may campaign in response.

Oregon

According to Rule 4 of Oregon's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Misrepresent a judicial candidate's identity, qualifications, present position, education, experience, or other fact.

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office that could inhibit or compromise the faithful, impartial, and diligent performance of the duties of the office.

  • Personally solicit campaign contributions. However, they may establish committees to obtain and manage finances, including contributions, and pay expenses to promote the candidate's election.

  • Publicly identify themselves as members of a political party.

Pennsylvania

According to Canon 7 of Pennsylvania's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates should not:

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Make statements that commit them with respect to cases or controversies likely to come before them.
  • Misrepresent their identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign funds or solicit publicly stated support.

Candidates may establish committees to secure and manage campaign funds and to obtain public statements of support for the candidates. Candidate committees may not solicit contributions earlier than thirty days prior to the first day for filing nominating petitions or the last day for filing a declaration of intention to seek retention.

In November 2002, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court amended Canon 7 to conform with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002), substituting the "commit clause" for the "announce clause" held unconstitutional in White.

Rhode Island

Judges do not stand for election in Rhode Island.

South Carolina

According to Canon 5 of South Carolina's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court.
  • Knowingly misrepresent their own or an opponent's identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions or personally solicit publicly stated support. 

Candidates may establish committees to conduct their campaigns, solicit and accept reasonable contributions, manage the expenditure of campaign funds, and obtain public statements of support. Committees may solicit contributions and public support for the candidate's campaign no earlier than one year before an election and no later than 90 days after the last election in which the candidate participates during the election year.

South Dakota

According to Canon 5 of South Dakota's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.

Candidates may personally solicit campaign contributions, but they are encouraged to establish committees of responsible persons to conduct their campaigns. Candidates and their campaign committees may solicit contributions no earlier than January 1 of the election year and no later than December 31 of the election year.

Tennessee

According to Canon 5 of Tennessee's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.

  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court.

  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or any other fact concerning themselves or their opponent.

  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions or solicit public support.

Candidates may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of campaign funds, and obtain public statements of support. Candidate committees may not solicit contributions and public support earlier than 180 days before the election or later than 90 days after the last election in which the candidate participates.

Texas

According to Canon 5 of Texas' code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office regarding pending or impending cases, specific classes of cases or litigants, or specific propositions of law that would suggest to a reasonable person that they would be predisposed to a probable decision in cases within the scope of the pledge.
  • Knowingly or recklessly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.
  • Publicly comment about pending or impending proceedings that may come before the court in a manner suggesting to a reasonable person their probable decision on any particular case.

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002), the Texas Supreme Court struck a provision prohibiting statements indicating an opinion "on any issue that may be subject to judicial interpretation." The court also added the "public comment" provision and amended the "pledges or promises" provision.

Canon 4 of the code expressly permits judges and candidates for judicial office to personally solicit funds for appropriate campaign expenses.

Utah

According to Canon 4 of Utah's code of judicial conduct, judicial retention candidates shall not:

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Misrepresent their identity, qualifications, present position, or other facts.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign funds or solicit publicly stated support.

If their retention has drawn active public opposition, judicial retention candidates may establish campaign committees to secure and manage campaign funds and to obtain public statements of support.

When a party or lawyer who made a contribution of $50 or more to a judge's campaign committee appears before the judge, the judge is required to disclose the contribution to the parties. The disclosure requirement continues from the time the judge forms a campaign committee until 180 days after the general election.

Vermont

According to Canon 5 of Vermont's code of judicial conduct, probate court candidates shall not:

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.

  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court.

  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or any other candidate.

  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions or personally solicit publicly stated support. However, they may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of campaign funds, and obtain public statements of support.


Virginia

Judges do not stand for popular election in Virginia.

Washington

According to Canon 7 of Washington's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.

  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues likely to come before the court.

  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or an opponent.

  • Identify themselves as members of a political party.

  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions.

Candidates may establish a committee to secure and manage campaign funds and obtain public statements of support. Candidate committees may not solicit contributions earlier than 120 days from the date when filing for the office is first permitted or later than 60 days after the final election in which the candidate participates.

West Virginia

According to Canon 5 of West Virginia's code of judicial conduct, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office

  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court.

  • Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or any other fact concerning themselves or an opponent.

  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions or personally solicit public support.

Candidates may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of funds for the campaign, and obtain public statements of support.

Wisconsin

According to Rule 60.06 of Wisconsin's code of judicial conduct, judges, judges-elect, and judicial candidates shall not:
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly or with reckless disregard for the statement's truth or falsity misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions, but they may establish a committee to solicit and accept lawful campaign contributions.

Judicial candidates may personally solicit and accept endorsements.

In February 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin permanently enjoined enforcement of three provisions of the code regarding judicial campaigns on the grounds that they violate the First Amendment rights of candidates. Siefert v. Alexander, 08-CV-126. The provisions at issue bar judges and judicial candidates from being members of political parties, endorsing or speaking on behalf of candidates or political party platforms, and personally soliciting campaign contributions. In June 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit restored two of the rules--the rule barring endorsement of partisan candidates for office and the rule barring personal solicitation of campaign contributions. Siefert v. Alexander, No. 09-1713.

Wyoming

According to Canon 5 of Wyoming's code of judicial conduct, if there is active opposition to their retention in office, judicial candidates shall not:
  • Knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement.
  • Make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court. 
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign funds.

Candidates may establish campaign committees to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of funds for the campaign, and obtain public statements of support. Campaign committees may not solicit contributions and support earlier than one year before an election or later than 30 days after the last election in which the candidate participates.