Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday criticized a proposal for an ethics rule aimed at preventing federal judges from joining either the conservative Federalist Society or the liberal American Constitution Society.
“And now I think they’re about to silence the Federalist Society. So I guess I can’t come back,” Thomas said on Friday while at the group’s convention at Walt Disney World, according to The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. Circuit Judge Gregory Katsas, who clerked for Thomas, replied, “some of us are fighting back.”
The proposal, which would strengthen the rules allowing judges to join the groups as long as they don’t take a leadership position, was shared at the Judicial Conference of the U.S. last month. It would still allow judges to attend and take part in events that the groups sponsor, such as panel discussions, but “a reasonable and informed public would view judges holding membership in these organizations to hold, advocate, and serve liberal or conservative interests.”
The Judicial Council also directed some concern at the American Bar Association, saying in the proposal that “in the current politically divisive climate, positions taken by the ABA’s House of Delegates could reasonably be viewed to favor liberal or progressive causes.”
However, the council did not propose that judges be prohibited from joining the ABA due to the organization’s rules on judges.
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