What about a judge's personal views?
Because it is appropriate for legislators and the governor to consider public opinion and the views of special interest groups when passing laws and adopting public policy, citizens expect candidates for these offices to tell us their views about issues of public importance.
But judges are different.
- It is not appropriate for a judge to consider his or her personal views or public opinion when deciding cases. Judges must be neutral and follow the rule of law.
- A judge has a First Amendment right to free speech. But if a judge announces a position on an issue, the judge's impartiality may be called into question and the judge may later have to decline handling cases involving that issue.
- Judicial ethics prohibit judges from commenting about cases pending in court. This ensures that litigants receive a fair trial.