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N.Y. JUDGE CRITICIZES LIMITS ON SPEECH ALBANY, N.Y. — A judge whose battle for judicial free speech has received widespread attention said Thursday that New York’s restrictions impede the ability of voters to make intelligent choices. Supreme Court Justice Thomas Spargo, who is under investigation for violating the speech-restrictive provisions in the Code of Judicial Conduct, told an Albany Law School audience that citizens cannot be true participants in a democracy if candidates are prohibited from expressing their opinions. “You and I as voters have a right to hear what it is a judicial candidate thinks is important,” Justice Spargo said. “The government is our government. But the fact is when it comes to the judicial branch, we as voters don’t have the right to hear what some judicial candidate wants to say about why he wants to be a judge, what he would do if he got there. So we get name, rank and serial number, and maybe a photo of him with his dog.” Justice Spargo contrasted the rules for elective judges with those for appointive federal posts. He said both major party presidential candidates have made clear that they will appoint judges of particular viewpoints. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., of the Judiciary Committee, he noted, has repeatedly said that an ideological inquiry is appropriate for candidates for lifetime bench appointments. — New York Law Journal

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