Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once said judges should adopt a “rope-a-dope” posture when criticized, taking the hits passively until their adversaries wear themselves out.

But with 25 judges suing for libel in 2005 alone — nearly 10 percent of all libel suits filed nationwide — that form of judicial restraint is fading, raising questions about the role, and the ethics, of judges and whether they have a right to be as litigious as everyone else.

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