A federal judicial ethics committee sent a draft opinion to federal judges this month that cautioned judges against becoming members of the Federalist Society, a group for conservative lawyers.
The group, led by Leonard Leo, has advised the Trump administration on several judicial appointments.
While it is “broadly permissible” for Federalist Society events to host federal judges, the draft opinion said that judges should not join the organization since it could bring their neutrality into question.
Some conservatives viewed the draft opinion as a direct response to the Federalist Society’s increased influence in judiciary appointments, with one society member telling Fox News the opinion “smacks of censorship.”
The draft opinion also mentioned the Federalist Society’s liberal counterpart, the American Constitution Society. But Judicial Crisis Network chief counsel and policy director Carrie Severino told Fox News that draft opinion is “an ongoing political campaign to silence the Federalist Society.”
The draft opinion did not take issue with judges’ membership of the ABA, but conservatives have previously criticized the association for its partisanship. Unlike the Federalist Society, the association takes policy positions on various issues, such as condemning the 2018 government shutdown and opposing laws to arm teachers in public schools.