Judicial Conduct Committee May Bar Judges from Joining Conservative Groups

Would only allow membership in leftist American Bar Association…

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A group governing judicial ethics is seeking to strengthen the leftist stranglehold on the legal community by barring judges’ affiliation with a prominent right-leaning group while turning a blind-eye to the radical liberal activism of the American Bar Association.

The Committee on Codes of Conduct issued an advisory opinion endorsing a ban on membership in the Federalist Society.

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The Federalist Society espouses conservative philosophies on matters such as individual liberties prescribed by the Bill of Rights and contemporary social issues like abortion.

President Donald Trump prominently lent cachet to the group when he consulted them during his 2016 campaign on a list of prospective nominees for federal judgeships, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

His two top judicial appointments to date—justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—are among those recommended by the society.

In justifying its opposition to the Federalist Society, the conduct committee sought to establish a false parity with a radical leftist organization, the American Constitution Society, which counts former Attorney General Eric Holder among its alumni.

ACS was formed specifically to provide a supposed counterbalance to the Federalist Society—ignoring the fact that the Federalist Society was itself a counterbalance to the left-skewed ABA and groups like it.

It is not unlike the ideological tug-of-war within the news media, in which Fox News was established as a “fair and balanced” alternative to existing media bias, only to have the radical left up the ante with purely propagandist networks like CNN in a bid to tip the scales back in their favor.

Likewise, the Left’s recent promotion of socialist presidential candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is widely seen as an effort to normalize the notion that slightly-less-extreme—but equally unsavory—alternatives like Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg occupy the ideological center.

The conduct committee readily asserted in its advisory opinion that the three organizations it was considering were on equal footing in terms of their political activism.

“[T]he Committee has never suggested, and does not now suggest, that the organizations act improperly or that their goals and missions are inappropriate,” said the opinion.

“All are respected organizations that provide welcome services and benefits to their members,” it continued. “… But membership in these organizations presents a different question.”

ABA

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at a meeting of the Federalist Society. / IMAGE: The Federalist Society via Youtube

While it said all were “law-related organizations” it deemed the “extrajudicial” activities of the Federalist Society and the ACS to be in violation of its standards, claiming they interfered with a judge’s “impartiality.”

Of course, given that all three groups espouse political positions, engage in activism and support specific candidates, one might think the same standard would apply.

But instead, the committee sought to engage in its own virtue-signaling by introducing a relativist, non-judicial concept of “public perception” into the mix.

“[J]udges should consider whether a sponsoring organization ‘is generally viewed by the public as having adopted a consistent political or ideological point of view equivalent to the type of partisanship often found in political organizations,'” asserted the committee.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the ABA has given almost exclusively to Democrats—including radical progressives like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.—in recent election cycles.

It also has actively sought to smear some of Trump’s high-level judges by falsely rating them as “unqualified” based solely on their political beliefs.

The group has even been involved in highly-charged political advocacy, endorsing controversial gun-confiscation laws in direct violation of the Second Amendment.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board joined groups like the conservative Judicial Crisis Network in criticizing the “judicial mischief” of the opinion.

It noted that left-wing activist groups have waged a targeted campaign against the Federalist Society, supported by liberal media and politicians with deep ties to the conduct committee’s 15 judges.

Unlike the left-leaning ABA and ACS, which engage in explicit advocacy by filing court briefs in support of their radical agenda, The Federalist Society has a primarily educational function that “serves students on the left and right by exposing them to the legal and constitutional views they’ll have to contend with after they graduate,” said the editorial.

The newspaper called on Chief Justice John Roberts to intervene and “stop this exercise before it becomes a major political headache.”

However, it noted that Roberts—a George W. Bush appointee—did not inspire confidence by naming a leftist judge to oversee recent reforms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

“The judiciary doesn’t need another a political black-eye, this time over rules issued by insiders and clearly aimed at restricting the right of association of students, lawyers and judges with originalist legal views,” it said.