Monday, January 29, 2018
Story here. As Walter Olson notes,
The Ontario bar association has adopted a rule under which all lawyers “must prepare and submit a personal ‘Statement of Principles’ attesting that we value and promote equality, diversity and inclusion,” according to Bruce Pardy in the National Post, who says it’s a bad idea. . . .
But the U.S. is not so far behind. In 2016 the ABA adopted Model Rule 8.4 (g), which makes it “professional misconduct” for an attorney to engage in “conduct,” including verbal “conduct,” that “the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” . . .
The “Test Acts” were a series of enactments in England that excluded from public office and penalized in other ways those who would not swear allegiance to the prevailing religious tenets of the day. There is no good reason to bring back their principles.
This is a troubling development, and lawyers (in both Canada and the United States) should resist it. I agree with Eugene Volokh regarding the First Amendment problems with the ABA's Model Rule. The concern, obviously, doesn't have to do with whether or not lawyers should be committed to "equality" in some sense but rather with the fact that, in contemporary discussions, both "equality, diversity, and inclusion" and "discrimination" are used in imprecise and ideologically and/or religiously loaded ways. Stay tuned . . .