Republican Party of Minn. v. White, 536 U.S. 765, 12 (2002)

Page:   Index   Previous  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  Next



Opinion of the Court

assures equal application of the law. That is, it guarantees a party that the judge who hears his case will apply the law to him in the same way he applies it to any other party. This is the traditional sense in which the term is used. See Webster's New International Dictionary 1247 (2d ed. 1950) (defining "impartial" as "[n]ot partial; esp., not favoring one more than another; treating all alike; unbiased; equitable; fair; just"). It is also the sense in which it is used in the cases cited by respondents and amici for the proposition that an impartial judge is essential to due process. Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U. S. 510, 523, 531-534 (1927) ( judge violated due process by sitting in a case in which it would be in his financial interest to find against one of the parties); Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Lavoie, 475 U. S. 813, 822-825 (1986) (same); Ward v. Monroeville, 409 U. S. 57, 58-62 (1972) (same); Johnson v. Mississippi, 403 U. S. 212, 215-216 (1971) (per curiam) ( judge violated due process by sitting in a case in which one of the parties was a previously successful litigant against him); Bracy v. Gramley, 520 U. S. 899, 905 (1997) (would violate due process if a judge was disposed to rule against defendants who did not bribe him in order to cover up the fact that he regularly ruled in favor of defendants who did bribe him); In re Murchison, 349 U. S. 133, 137-139 (1955) ( judge violated due process by sitting in the criminal trial of defendant whom he had indicted).

We think it plain that the announce clause is not narrowly tailored to serve impartiality (or the appearance of impartiality) in this sense. Indeed, the clause is barely tailored to serve that interest at all, inasmuch as it does not restrict speech for or against particular parties, but rather speech for or against particular issues. To be sure, when a case arises that turns on a legal issue on which the judge (as a candidate) had taken a particular stand, the party taking the opposite stand is likely to lose. But not because of any bias against that party, or favoritism toward the other party.

Page:   Index   Previous  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007