We happen, reflexively, to be as absolute about free speech as Judge Wendell Griffen. When it says "no law" shall restrict free speech, we think it means "no law." Particularly laws that gag judges. We don't happen to think it's so good for the appearance of an impartial judiciary to have judges spouting off willy nilly, but we also think the cure for intemperate judges in Arkanas is the ballot box.
All this is a long runup to the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission's long animus toward the outspoken Griffen and its latest deliberation on whether to discipline him for speaking about the federal government's abysmal response to Hurricane Katrina, among other important topics not under consideration in his court.
Griffen wants an open hearing on the proceeding. The judicial arbiters prefer to work out their prejudices against him in secret. The sun should shine in if he waives confidentiality.
That's our view, anyway.
For a more temperate view, consider our new community blogger, Hog Lawyer, who evaluates the issue today.