June 26, 2020
This responds to your inquiry (20-51) asking whether you may, as a member of a political party, engage in certain political activity, such as “writing to [state or federal] representatives or senators…expressing … personal positions; attending meetings, rallies or events for candidates for office; volunteering for such candidates in any capacity at their office or in contact with the general public; canvassing in other states to support candidates for national office or candidates for office in those other states; [or] any similar efforts to support candidates for any political office.” You indicate that you would not disclose your judicial position.
While the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct expressly permit membership in a political party (see 22 NYCRR 100.5[A][ii]), a sitting judge, whether full- or part-time, is expressly prohibited from engaging directly or indirectly in any political activity (see 22 NYCRR 100.5[A]).
A narrow exception permits a judge to engage in political activity in support of his/her own election campaign or re-election to office campaign during his/her window period (see 22 NYCRR 100.5[A][C]; 100.5[A]-; see also 22 NYCRR 100.0[Q]). Accordingly, the Rules prohibit the political activities described above and any other political activity not excepted by the Rules. The fact that you would not disclose your judicial position does not render prohibited political activity permissible.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 17-38 and 16-85 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice (Ret.)
Appellate Div., First Dep’t
Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice