August 14, 1987
Opinion No. 87/9
Canons 4 and 5
This letter is in response to your inquiry dated June 16, 1987. You state that you have been appointed to the Committee on The Bicentennial of The United States Constitution for your circuit and pose the following question:
Whether a Judge can be a member of the Committee on The Bicentennial of The United States Constitution in your Judicial Circuit where a lawyer or lay person member solicits contributions or contributions in-kind for funding of The Constitutional Bicentennial Celebration.
You further state that no Judge will be involved directly or indirectly in any solicitation of contributions whatsoever.
Canon 4 of the Code of Judicial Conduct limits judges' quasi-judicial activities to improving the Law, the Legal System, and the Administration of Justice. We do not feel that Canon 4 covers your question. Canon 5 is applicable to this inquiry. The Commentary to Canon 5A aptly points out:
"Complete separation of a judge from extrajudicial activities is neither possible nor wise; he should not become isolated from the society in which he lives."
Canon 5G does allow certain extrajudicial appointments as follows:
"A Judge should not accept appointment to a governmental committee, commission, or other position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the Law, the Legal System, or the Administration of Justice. A Judge, however, may represent his country, state, or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational, or cultural activities."
Accordingly, the committee is unanimous in its opinion that you may serve as a member of the Committee on The Bicentennial of The United States Constitution for your Judicial Circuit.
This opinion is subject, however, to the restrictive admonitions contained in Canon 5B(1), (2), and (3).
One committee member does caution that a Judge not allow the prestige of his office to be used when a lay committee member solicits funds on behalf of The Bicentennial Committee.
We appreciate your inquiry and trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
George W. Tedder, Jr.