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Appeals court restores Minnesota judicial election rules

Appeals court restores Minnesota judicial election rules Click to Enlarge Photo:

Mar 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A federal appeals court has restored Minnesota's restrictions on fundraising and endorsements by judicial candidates.

The full Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a three-judge appeals panel ruling in 2010 that declared the state's restrictions unconstitutional on free-speech grounds.

Former Minnesota Supreme Court candidate Greg Wersal has spent years challenging Minnesota rules that tightly restrict a judicial candidate's ability to personally solicit campaign donations, and that bar them from publicly endorsing or opposing other candidates for public office.

In a split decision, a plurality of the appeals judges concluded that the rules are constitutional. They say Minnesota has a compelling interest in preserving judicial impartiality and the appearance of judicial impartiality.

In two separate dissents, other judges maintain that the rules do violate First Amendment freedoms.

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