Republican Party of Minn. v. White, 536 U.S. 765, 11 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 765 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

nounce clause is (1) narrowly tailored, to serve (2) a compelling state interest. E. g., Eu v. San Francisco County Democratic Central Comm., 489 U. S. 214, 222 (1989). In order for respondents to show that the announce clause is narrowly tailored, they must demonstrate that it does not "unnecessarily circumscrib[e] protected expression." Brown v. Hart-lage, 456 U. S. 45, 54 (1982).

The Court of Appeals concluded that respondents had established 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. 247 F. 3d, at 867. Respondents reassert these two interests before us, arguing that the first is compelling because it protects the due process rights of litigants, and that the second is compelling because it preserves public confidence in the judiciary.6 Respondents are rather vague, however, about what they mean by "impartiality." Indeed, although the term is used throughout the Eighth Circuit's opinion, the briefs, the Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct, and the ABA Codes of Judicial Conduct, none of these sources bothers to define it. Clarity on this point is essential before we can decide whether impartiality is indeed a compelling state interest, and, if so, whether the announce clause is narrowly tailored to achieve it.


One meaning of "impartiality" in the judicial context—and of course its root meaning—is the lack of bias for or against either party to the proceeding. Impartiality in this sense

6 Although the Eighth Circuit also referred to the compelling interest in an "independent" judiciary, 247 F. 3d, at 864-868, both it and respondents appear to use that term, as applied to the issues involved in this case, as interchangeable with "impartial." See id., at 864 (describing a judge's independence as his "ability to apply the law neutrally"); Brief for Respondents 20, n. 4 ("[J]udicial impartiality is linked to judicial independence").


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