Arthur Hellman Offers Commentary on 1st Amendment ‘Reversal of Direction’ by Supreme Court
Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman, an expert on federal judicial ethics, recently was quoted by The Christian Science Monitor and United States Law Week (published by Bloomberg BNA and available by subscription only), in their analyses of the Supreme Court’s decision in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar. The Court held that states do not violate the First Amendment by prohibiting candidates for judicial office from personally soliciting campaign funds.
Hellman expressed disappointment at the “reversal of direction by a [Supreme Court] that in recent years has stood firmly against content-based restrictions on speech, even those enacted with the best of intentions.”
He said the Court's strict scrutiny analysis could affect other free speech cases involving content-based restrictions. The Court’s approach, he said, was a sharp turnaround from the decision last year—also authored by Chief Justice Roberts—striking down Massachusetts’s “abortion buffer zone.” There, Roberts purported to apply intermediate scrutiny but found that the Massachusetts law didn't meet that test. But in Williams-Yulee, the use of strict scrutiny actually seems less demanding. This kind of “watered-down” strict scrutiny will serve as a “road map for upholding content-based restrictions on speech,” Hellman said.