The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear attorney Greg Wersal’s appeal today on his challenge to Minnesota’s campaign laws that prohibit candidates for judicial office from personally fundraising or endorsing other candidates for office.
Wersal is a frequent candidate for the appellate bench in Minnesota. He ran for Supreme Court in and in 2008 race he wanted to endorse two other judicial candidates and Michelle Bachmann for U.S. Congress. The endorsement clause of the Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct forbids candidates for the bench endorsing other candidates.
Wersal also wanted to go door-to-door to solicit campaign contributions from non-attorney voters. The personal solicitation clause of the judicial code prohibits candidates from seeking donations themselves.
Wersal said he could not wage an effective campaign and postponed his run for the bench until 2010. He sued arguing the clauses that prohibited endorsing candidates and soliciting campaign contributions violated the First Amendment as it was applied to political speech in the Republican Party vs. White decision.
He sued Patrick D. Sexton who was the chair of the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards at the time and a host of others. The district court denied Wersal’s motion and granted summary judgment to the judicial standards board. Wersal appealed that decision and won an en banc review hearing at the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A five judge panel voted to uphold the district court’s opinion.
The panel ruled that “Minnesota has compelling interests in maintaining judicial impartiality and the appearance of such impartiality.”
Wersal appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court which today denied to hear his appeal. (Link is here on p. 16.)