Thursday, November 14, 2013

Republican Party of Minnesota v. White case brief

Republican Party of Minnesota v. White case brief summary
536 U.S. 765 (2002)

Petitioners, including a political party and a judicial candidate, sued respondents, including professional responsibility boards and board members, alleging that the announce clause, Minn. Code Jud. Conduct Canon 5(A)(3)(d)(i) (2000), violated the First Amendment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment for respondents. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

The announce clause prohibited candidates for judicial election from announcing their views on disputed legal and political issues. The judicial candidate alleged that he was forced to refrain from announcing his views on disputed issues during a campaign. Respondents asserted two interests as sufficiently compelling to justify the announce clause: preserving the impartiality of the state judiciary and preserving the appearance of the impartiality of the state judiciary.


  • Applying strict scrutiny, the Court determined that the announce clause violated the First Amendment.
  • The announce clause was not narrowly tailored to serve impartiality in the traditional sense, where impartiality meant the lack of bias for or against either party to the proceeding, or in the sense that impartiality meant openmindedness. 
  • Also, the announce clause failed the strict scrutiny review because it was woefully underinclusive, prohibiting announcements by judges and would-be judges only at certain times and in certain forms.


The Court reversed the grant of summary judgment to respondents and remanded the case.

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