"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Can federal employment be conditioned on watching "sensitivity training" videos despite an impeccable performance on the job?

An administrative judge Gary Suttles, of Social Security Administration, was fired for refusing to watch a 17-minute LGBT-awareness video.

The judge was on the job for 12 years, obviously without a disciplinary record, and stated in an e-mail that he treats everybody equally and with respect.

Apparently, that was not enough for him to keep his job.

He was fired - and sued the federal government.

A lawyer specializing in such issues reportedly stated in an interview about this case:

""If it's a requirement in the job in terms of training, you ought to take it," he said, "and if you really feel that strongly about it you can say, 'I won't take it, but I will recuse myself if the people in court fall into this protected group.'"

I disagree.

An employer, especially when the employer is the federal government, may not order just any training, the training must be related to the job performance, and must be related to the particular problems in the job performance.

A desire to simply "raise cultural awareness" is not enough to jam certain training down people's throats.

In this case, the judge clearly stated that he treats everybody in his courtroom with equal respect, and thus there were no reasons to fire him.

Political issues aside, the question here is:

  • if an employee does his job;
  • did not commit misconduct, and
  • did not commit discrimination of any kind while on the job
can he be fired for simply refusing to watch "cultural awareness" training videos - once again, if he never discriminated against anyone for any reason and if he pledges to treat everybody equally and with respect, which is what the duty of a judge presupposes?

Can such "discrimination awareness videos" be regarded as asking from the judge to give MORE regard to members of the LGBR community instead of being neutral and impartial and treat everybody as equal under the law?

I will follow this lawsuit and report the outcome on this blog.

Stay tuned.

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