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Platt v. Board of Commissioners on Grievs. & Discipline of the Ohio Supreme Court

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

October 8, 2014

JOSEPH J. PLATT; PLATT FOR JUDGE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE; MARK W. MILLER, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ON GRIEVANCES AND DISCIPLINE OF THE OHIO SUPREME COURT, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued August 8, 2014

Page 448

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 449

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati. No. 1:13-cv-00435--Michael R. Barrett, District Judge.

ARGUED: Curt C. Hartman, THE LAW FIRM OF CURT C. HARTMAN, Amelia, Ohio, for Appellants.

Zachery P. Keller, OFFICE OF THE OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellees.

ON BRIEF: Curt C. Hartman, THE LAW FIRM OF CURT C. HARTMAN, Amelia, Ohio, Christopher P. Finney, FINNEY LAW FIRM LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellants.

Zachery P. Keller, Bridget E. Coontz, Darlene Fawkes Pettit, OFFICE OF THE OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellees.

Before: GIBBONS and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges; LAWSON, District Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 450

McKEAGUE, Circuit Judge.

As a judicial candidate, Joseph Platt wants to openly endorse other candidates, personally and directly solicit campaign funds, and receive campaign contributions without time limitations. But he cannot do so because the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits these activities. He sought to preliminarily enjoin enforcement of these parts of the Code under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, but the district court denied his request. At this early stage--reviewing the denial of a preliminary injunction on interlocutory appeal--we agree with the district court and thus affirm.

I.

A.

Because Ohioans elect their state-court judges, Ohio Const. art. IV, § 6, aspiring judges run for office. When campaigning, these candidates must follow the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct. Ohio Code J. Cond. Application I(A). Promulgated by the Ohio Supreme Court, see Ohio Const. art. IV, § 5(B), the Code places certain limits on a candidate's campaign-related speech to help maintain an " independent, fair, and impartial judiciary" --one free of " both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety." Ohio Code J. Cond. Pmbl. ¶ ¶ 1-3. After our decision in Carey v. Wolnitzek, 614 F.3d 189 (6th Cir. 2010), striking certain parts of the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct, Ohio narrowed its Code. As amended, all judicial candidates--incumbents and challengers--are subject to Canon 4 of the Code, which places restrictions on direct, personal monetary solicitation, Ohio Code J. Cond. 4.4(A); bans public ...


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