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Regarding Race and Directories
In response to Terra Nevitt’s article in the February 2022 issue of Bar News [“Black History Month: What is Our Pathway Forward?”] and the Feb. 18 diversity [list serve] post regarding the 2022 Judges of Color Directory, would the Bar support a 2022 White Judges Directory? No, and on that same basis, I believe a 2022 Judges of Color Directory is just as inappropriate. Society needs the best judges regardless of their color.
Why are funds (either tax dollars or our Bar dues) being used to promote such a directory, which by its existence infers that white judges cannot be fair minded and race-blind when administering court proceedings. Is this another version of “Kendi speak” where white [people] are unilaterally oppressors and non-white [people] are the oppressed?
Why would any judge want to be listed in a directory based on race? What practical purpose does such a directory serve? A tool for judge shopping maybe?
And the ultimate question: Isn’t such a directory racist? And I think I can answer that.
The 2022 Judges of Color Directory is a public accommodation or service. It should be open to participation by all the judges without selection based on race. Limiting participation according to the color of a judge’s skin is racist and violates laws that forbid discrimination.
Inez Petersen, Enumclaw
I feel that I have to comment on the structure of the WSBA [Future Structure of the WSBA Study, “Need to Know,” March 2022 Bar News]. Recent lawsuits in other states claim that the bar violates their first amendment rights because lawyers are compelled to pay dues to support speech on politics that they do not approve of. If the bar association were part of the executive branch, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, then the head of the agency could speak about politics because the executive branch has a right and duty to communicate its views to the public, and the public has a right to know what they or it thinks.
But the WSBA is not part of the executive branch. It is part of the judiciary. The judiciary is required to be neutral and impartial to all parties because their function is to interpret the laws, not to create them. I believe the judiciary must follow this standard in order to be a constitutional court under the federal constitution and the requirement of three branches, judicial, executive, and legislative. That being the case, when the WSBA takes political positions, which it constantly does, in favor almost always of the Democratic Party, the WSBA violates the constitutions both state and federal, and the Supreme Court, as supervisor and master of the Bar, violates the constitution as well.
Roger B. Ley, Portland, OR
Editor’s note: The WSBA is not a court. The WSBA operates under the supervision of and pursuant to the Washington Supreme Court’s authority to regulate the practice of law.
Letters to the editor published in Bar News must respond to content presented in the magazine and also comply with Washington General Rule 12.2 and Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990).* Bar News may limit the number of letters published based on available space in a particular issue and, if many letters are received in response to a specific piece in the magazine, may select letters that provide differing viewpoints to publish. Bar News does not publish anonymous letters or more than one letter from the same contributor per issue. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, civility, and grammatical accuracy.
*GR 12.2(c) states that the WSBA is not authorized to “(1) Take positions on issues concerning the politics or social positions of foreign nations; (2) Take positions on political or social issues which do not relate to or affect the practice of law or the administration of justice; or (3) Support or oppose, in an election, candidates for public office.” In Keller v. State Bar of California, the Court ruled that a bar association may not use mandatory member fees to support political or ideological activities that are not reasonably related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.