Everyone expects a judge to be impartial. In fact, it’s generally required that judges avoid even the perception of impropriety, so as not to taint the public’s trust in the justice system. But the American Civil Liberties Union thinks the agency that helps run the U.S. court system has gone a little too far in extending those restrictions to its administrative employees.
New rules barring hundreds of support staff from expressing political opinions on social media or donating to political parties is a violation of their First Amendment rights, the ACLU said in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Washington federal court.
The measures at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, part of the judicial branch of the U.S. government, are stricter than those governing political activity by employees of executive branch agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Justice, the ACLU argued in its complaint. The rules, implemented in March, also bar court employees from displaying political lawn signs at home or wearing political buttons when not at work, the ACLU said.