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NO CORPORATE FUNDS FOR CLASSES To the editor: The March 20 commentary about educational seminars for judges, entitled “Free to Learn” (Page 76), includes an misleading reference to the Aspen Institute’s judicial seminars. While other Aspen Institute programs may have received corporate funds, the judicial seminars, organized since 1982 by Aspen’s Justice and Society Program, have been funded by the Ford Foundation. No corporate funding has been solicited or received for any of the judicial seminars. Alice Henkin Director, Justice and Society Program Aspen Institute New York City
ACCEPT A GIFT BAN? To the editor: In their March 20 commentary ( “Free to Learn,” Page 76), John Baden and Pete Geddes badly mischaracterize my organization’s critique of their expense-paid trips for federal judges. Our case against the trips run by the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) is premised on: (1) the size of the gifts that FREE gives judges, (2) the source of most of FREE’s money, and (3) the content of the programs, which advance, in Baden’s words elsewhere, a “rejection of top-down, command and control environmentalism.” I am heartened, nevertheless, that Baden and Geddes recognize, finally, that it would be better to take private money out of the judicial education equation. This is a big concession from two top officials at FREE. I am delighted that they support portions of a bill introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy to create a Judicial Education Fund, thereby allowing judges to avoid the taint of corporate funding. Community Rights Counsel has supported this approach since Leahy introduced similar legislation in 2003. FREE’s main objection to Leahy’s bill — the proposed standard for allocating money from the fund — is a red herring. The bill merely echoes the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges, which states that judges should “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judicial branch.” Because of this, I would support legislation that distributes money to the chief judge of each court with no standards attached. FREE is thunderingly silent on the most important provision of Leahy’s bill — the provision tying the creation of the fund to a ban on judicial acceptance of the four- or five-figure gifts currently associated with FREE trips. If FREE opposes this provision, then its proposal neither “takes the divisive funding issue off the table” nor forces FREE “to compete with other programs” for judges’ scare resources. If FREE is willing to accept the gift ban and compete for judicial participation without the lure of big gifts, I’d be delighted to work with FREE in promoting this bill. Doug Kendall Community Rights Counsel Washington, D.C.

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