The Wall Street Journal reports:
Just a few days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether states can bar judicial candidates from soliciting campaign donations without violating their speech rights.
Across the coast in California, the state’s highest court has decided that judges there will no longer be allowed to belong to nonprofit youth organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation or other criteria, effectively barring membership to the Boy Scouts of America.
The group wasn’t mentioned specifically by name, but the California rule was proposed last year in response to the Boy Scout’s policy of excluding gays from staff and leadership roles. After hearing from scores of judges and lawyers, some of whom fiercely opposed it, the California Supreme Court on Friday voted to adopt the rule, which takes effect next year.
The U.S. Supreme Court case is about the political speech rights of judges, while the California ethics rule deals with limits on free association. But both raise the question of how much First Amendment protection should be granted to judges who have a special duty to be fair and impartial, says Harvard University constitutional scholar Noah Feldman. . . .