August 8, 2016
Edwin Meese III, a former U.S. attorney general appointed by President Ronald Reagan, decried a proposed change in the the American Bar Association’s ethics rules as a threat to freedom of speech and religion in letter written with a religious-liberties lawyer Kelly Shackelford.
The professional organization’s Model Rule 8.4 would make it an ethics violation to “discriminate on the basis of race … sexual orientation, gender identity … or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” Critics say the proposal goes too far and would have a chilling effect if it were made part of the rules of conduct governing practicing lawyers.
The rule, “if adopted by state bar associations, would empower those who run state bar associations — largely establishment lawyers — to selectively discipline and even disbar individual lawyers whose values are traditional rather than progressive,” say attorneys Herbert W. Titus and William J. Olson, writing in American Thinker.
The rule change would allow attorneys to be disbarred based on their religious or political views, or for their membership in organizations that express views that could be considered discriminatory, according to Meese and Shackelford.