“Rule 401 gags judges when it comes to judicial candidates”

District Judge Alan Malott of the Second Judicial District Court has this op-ed piece in today’s Albuquerque Journal.

Although New Mexico voters have the opportunity to elect state court judges in this year’s election, it’s fair to say that most of them have little familiarity with the candidates for these important offices.

One possible source of information about the judicial candidates would be other judges, but as Judge Malott notes, Rule 401 of the N.M. Code of Judicial Conduct was amended this year and now prohibits state court judges from publicly endorsing or opposing any candidate for public office, and also prohibits judges from making contributions to political organizations or candidates.

The goal of the new provision is to bar judges from engaging in activities that may create an appearance of impropriety, but Judge Malott suggests that the provision goes too far and may infringe on the First Amendment rights of judges.  What do you think?


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