Sunday, August 08, 2004

First Amendment Watch
In other news, the First Amendment is threatened, once again, by the people who ought to be most concerned about protecting it. The ABA is considering making part of its ethics rules for judges one that forbids them from joining a group that discriminates against homosexuals. This would mean judges would have to leave groups like the Boy Scouts and, presumably, conservative churches as well.

Now, judges do need--more than any other member of society--to both be and appear impartial. But this can only go so far. Would we ban judges from joining the Sierra Club on the presumption that they then could not judge fairly when large chemical-producing corporations came before them? For that matter, why shouldn't a judge belong to, say, an all-female or ethnic club? (Which apparently would be prohibited even under the current rules.) As long as a group does not call for violence or oppression of another group, simply belonging to a group that has restrictions on membership does not intrinsically call into question one's ability to judge fairly.

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