What Groups Should Judges Join?

posted by Judge_Burke @ 22:42 PM
February 12, 2020

There is no easy answer to this question. If you are a judge in a jurisdiction with a tradition of hotly contested elections you might legitimately answer the question different than if you have a lifetime appointment. Perhaps it is one thing to speak to a group and another to be an active member. The Fair Courts Alert Reports that:

 
The Committee on Codes of Conduct of the U.S. Judicial Conference circulated a draft ethics advisory opinion that would prohibit federal judges from officially affiliating, whether as a member or in a leadership role, with the American Constitution Society (ACS) or the Federalist Society, but not the American Bar Association (ABA).
 
According to the draft opinion, official affiliation with ACS or the Federalist Society is inconsistent with the Code of Conduct for United States Judges because membership in either group “could convey … that the affiliated judge endorses the views and particular ideological perspectives advocated by the organization … and generally frustrate the public’s trust in the integrity and independence of the judiciary.” Membership in the ABA’s Judicial Division “does not raise these same concerns and is not necessarily inconsistent with the Code.”
 
Speaking at a Federalist Society event last week, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas criticized the draft opinion, saying “I think they’re about to silence the Federalist Society.” The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board also published an editorial, calling the draft ethics opinion “political mischief masked in high-sounding rhetoric.”

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