October 28, 1993
PLEASE NOTE: "New York's Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not include a provision analogous to Minnesota's 'announce clause.' The pledges or promises clause … does not prohibit judicial candidates from articulating their views on legal issues" (Matter of Watson, 100 N.Y.2d 290 ; cf. Republican Party of Minn. v White, 536 US 765 ).
Digest: A judge seeking re-election may accept an endorsement from the Right to Life party.
Rule: Canon 7(B)(1)(c).
A part-time judge who is seeking re-election has requested an opinion as to whether the judge may accept the endorsement of the Right to Life party. The judge previously ran for office on the Republican line, and has been offered additional endorsements from other political parties for the 1993 election year, including the Conservative and Democratic parties.
Canon 7(B)(1)(c) prohibits a judicial candidate, during a campaign for judicial office, from announcing “his views on disputed legal or political issues.” Thus, a candidate for judicial office should not sign a pledge to support the party's platform or position in connection with a written acceptance of the party's endorsement, or as a condition precedent to the offer of endorsement by the party. Neither should the candidate manifest an acceptance of the principles of the party in any other fashion. These principles are applicable equally whether endorsements are made by multi-issue or single-issue political parties.
However, a judicial candidate's mere acceptance of the endorsement of a political party, whether multi-issue or single-issue, in and of itself, does not constitute an endorsement by the candidate of the party's position on an issue, nor does it constitute an announcement of the candidate's position on the party's platform or political philosophy, either specifically or generally. For example, it is not inconsistent in precedent or custom for a judicial candidate to accept simultaneously the endorsements of the Democratic, Republican, Liberal and Conservative parties, even where the party platforms are in conflict. A candidate who accepts the endorsement of a party that limits its platform to one issue, such as the Right to Life party, does not necessarily imply agreement with the position of that party. Thus, as long as the party is on the ballot in accordance with the Election Law, the candidate may accept its endorsement if all the procedures and requirements of the Election Law are met.
See also, New York State Bar Association Committee on Judicial Election Monitoring, Opinion No. 1 - (83-3), dated September 28, 1983. Also in accord is unpublished opinion issued by OCA Counsel, dated February 20, 1980.
See also Opinion 93-99, infra.