Back in January, the Judicial Conference Committee on Codes of Conduct circulated a proposed draft opinion that would ban federal judges from joining groups like the Federalist Society and American Constitution Society, but authorized membership in the American Bar Association (ABA). After significant backlash, the committee announced on July 30th that it will no longer move forward with the opinion.
Though the announcement noted the committee received feedback “expressing a wide variety of views,” over 200 of the 300 comments from federal judges criticized the draft opinion. Many found it problematic in light of its proposed distinction between the ABA and the Federalist Society. The draft purported to avoid a potential ethics problem, but unlike the ABA, the Federalist Society does take legal or policy positions, leaving many to feel the opinion unfairly targeted the conservative organization.