Published on: Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The D.C. Circuit ruled Tuesday that a federal judiciary policy, instituted in 2018 by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts forbidding employees from championing political candidates and parties outside of work and organizing to support their campaigns, violates the First Amendment.

AO: Off-site political expression could undermine the public perception of the judiciary as a whole. D.C. Circuit: The only way for AO employees’ off-site activities could affect the judiciary’s reputation would be if the public knew the AO existed in the first place, which is . . . contestable.

"Even with eight decades of AO history to draw from, the AO has excavated no instance of off-duty political conduct by an AO employee that has injured the judiciary's reputation," the court wrote. "That silent record is strong evidence that AO employees can speak on matters of public concern without tarnishing the reputation of the judiciary."

The case is Guffey et al. v. Mauskopf, 20-5183 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 16, 2022).