Canon 5 of Code Of Conduct for United States Judges says the following. Does this mean that a judge cannot be a registered Republican or Democrat? Or is it okay as long as he/she does not participate in any political activities?

CANON 5: A Judge Should Refrain from Political Activity

(A) General Prohibitions. A judge should not:

  1. act as a leader or hold any office in a political organization;
  2. make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office; or
  3. solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or attend or purchase a ticket for a dinner or other event sponsored by a political organization or candidate.

(B) Resignation upon Candidacy. A judge should resign the judicial office if the judge becomes a candidate in a primary or general election for any office.

(C) Other Political Activity. A judge should not engage in any other political activity. This provision does not prevent a judge from engaging in activities described in Canon 4.

  • For those wonder, Canon 4 does not specify registering for a party as protected activity, so unfortunately it isn't of much help.
    – Publius
    Oct 29, 2014 at 1:34
  • It depends on the state - several states have non-partisan judges, others are explicitly associated with a party. A good answer should list out the states in which the ballot shows party affiliation, and which don't. Oct 29, 2014 at 2:20
  • @AffableGeek The code of conduct seems to be a binding code for federal judges, who are not elected. State judges aren't bound (which is good, because the canon says judges running for office should resign, and that doesn't quite work for elected judges).
    – cpast
    Dec 12, 2014 at 2:39

1 Answer 1


Federal judges are allowed to be members of a political party and to vote. However, they (like many other federal and state employees) are restricted in the kinds of political activities they can pursue.

The Department of Justice issues a memo further specifying what exactly can't be done: http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/jmd/legacy/2013/09/10/pol-activ-dag-career-employees.pdf.

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