April 5, 2017
This responds to your inquiry (16-173) asking whether it is ethically permissible for an Association of Justices or individual judges to “publicly advance a position that a Constitutional Convention would present a risk to the security of [their] pensions, which are currently protected by provisions of the State Constitution.”
The Committee has advised that judges may publicly discuss and advocate for or against holding a constitutional convention, provided such discussion and advocacy is limited to the law, the legal system and the administration of justice and is otherwise consistent with generally applicable limitations on judicial speech and conduct. For example, a judge may not publicly comment on pending or impending proceedings in the United States or its territories and must ensure that any other comments do not cast reasonable doubt on his/her capacity to act impartially as a judge, detract from the dignity of judicial office, or otherwise interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 16-94, 10-63, and 09-244 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Div., First Dep’t (Ret.)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge
Acting Justice, Supreme Court