Thursday, May 31, 2007

Candidates May Speak Frankly

Running for judge in Wisconsin?

Feel free to have an opinion--or actually believe something.

Wisconsin Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, and eight state residents filed a lawsuit in December challenging two ethics rules that prohibit judges and judicial candidates from making public statements that would appear to commit them in an issue or making pledges, promises or commitments that would compromise their impartiality.

The group and the residents filed the suit after several judicial candidates declined to answer a questionnaire about how they would interpret abortion laws.

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz ruled Tuesday the rule preventing public statements is too broad and unconstitutional.

A judge or a candidate can disclose opinions as long as he or she doesn't clearly commit to a decision, which Shabaz suggested would be statements such as "I will" or "I will not."
"Phrases like 'I believe' or 'It is my opinion' signal the absence of commitment," Shabaz wrote.

It's my opinion that sunlight is a good disinfectant.

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