Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Permanent Injunction Issued In Ethics Battle By Alabama Justice

As previously reported, in March an Alabama federal district court issued a preliminary injunction, holding that provisions in the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics that were invoked against Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker are unconstitutional.  At issue was a ethics complaint over comments by Parker about the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell decision on an earlier Alabama Supreme Court order barring probate judges from issuing licenses for same-sex marriages.  Now the parties have agreed on the scope of a permanent injunction, and this week in Parker v. Judicial Inquiry Commission of the State of Alabama, (MD AL, June 11, 2018), the court issued an opinion and the consent injunction, barring the state Judicial Inquiry Commission from enforcing Canons 1, 2A and 3A(6):
to proscribe or punish any public comment by a judge unless the public comment can reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a proceeding pending or impending in any court. Public discussion by judges or judicial candidates of an issue of public importance cannot be proscribed or punished ... merely because that issue may happen to be the subject of a pending or impending proceeding in any court.
Liberty Counsel issued a press release on the court's action.