Saturday, August 07, 2004

Judging Associations reports on an interesting ethics change proposed to the American Bar Association (ABA). The rule change would prevent federal judges from belonging to groups that discriminate against homosexuals. The ABA already prohibts judges from belonging to clubs that discriminate on the basis of race or sex (while the ABA has no official legal authority, most courts use their recommendations, with modifications, in forming their own ethical standards).

I think both sides have persuasive arguments. On the one hand, I can see how it would be disconcerting for the judge hearing their case to be a member of an organization which discriminates against them. Such a situation would call into question the impartiality of the judge. On the other hand, their are serious freedom of association issues at stake, and it does seem a bit silly to ban judges from working with the Boy Scouts or the National Guard, both of which prohibit openly homosexual persons from membership. Of course, that both the Armed Forces and Boy Scouts are WRONG in prohibited homosexual members is very clear. But I doubt most people who join the Navy do it to express a deep seated hatred of homosexuals.

An important issue that needs some serious thought, that's for sure.

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