23. Permissible Poetry (3 pp.)

Judges are ethically bound to uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and avoid not only impropriety in that regard, but the appearance of impropriety. It is generally contrary to these requirements to express partisan or political views. A judge must interpret and apply the law, for example, without regard to whether the judge approves or disapproves of the law in question.

However, judges are encouraged within these constraints, because of their expertise, to express views about the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice through speaking, writing, teaching, and research. And they’re not totally prohibited from expressing their views on something nonlegal just because it might have policy or political implications. Judges have a right of free speech, too.

I have dabbled from time to time over the years in poetry (mostly limericks), and I must admit they have not been wholly apolitical. I have therefore kept them pretty much to myself. Having retired in September 2018 I am no longer required to be apolitical. But habits die hard.

I here choose to share four poems (among 29) I’ve written over the years. For a couple of them, they clearly express disagreement with current law and legal policy (money in politics and guns). That there are also inherent political implications does not prohibit their expression; at the least, my retired status pushes their recitation across the line of permissibility. The other two poems raise concerns so broad that they can be published here despite the fact any policy may inevitably have political implications. Click here:


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