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(Reuters) – More than a dozen liberal and religious groups have sued a U.S. appeals court to block Pennsylvania’s adoption of a professional anti-harassment and harassment law for lawyers.

In amicus briefs filed this week before the 3rd Circuit US Court of Appeals, the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, the religious rights group Alliance Defending Freedom and others argued that the law, supported by the American Bar Association, which violates the communication rights of lawyers. .

“While the government can control what lawyers say in the courtroom, testify in briefs, and testify for clients, it cannot silence their voices for the issues that affect people,” said Jake Warner, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, in a statement.

Pacific Legal warned that Pennsylvania’s adoption of ABA Rule 8.4(g), which prohibits attorneys from knowingly engaging in “discriminatory or discriminatory practices” based on race, gender, religion and other issues, will be abused by city officials in the future, citing past examples.

Lawyers who helped Americans resist the draft during World War I were dismissed, when the threat of capital punishment was used to prevent civil rights prosecutions, it said. and Pacific Legal.

“There is no way to know how many attorneys have expressed an opinion but remained silent after seeing public examples of harassment like the one above,” the brief said. group.

Zachary Greenberg, a program officer for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, first sued the law in August 2020. He has said he is at risk of violating discrimination law because of his testimony about he used abusive and sarcastic language. racial and homophobic insults.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s sentencing board and its sentencing arm, the Office of the Attorney General, have argued that Greenberg’s conduct does not violate Rule 8.4(g).

U.S. District Judge Chad Kenney blocked the law in March, after the state’s highest court reversed, because it went too far and conflicted with the First Amendment.

Pennsylvania officials have appealed Kenney’s decision. Solicitors from Williams & Connolly.

The ABA and other professional associations and legal experts — attorneys from Cozen O’Connor, Fox Rothschild, Hogan Lovells, Kaplan Hecker & Fink and Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin have provided their own comments on that clear in support of the amendment.

“There is no legal authority to engage in harassment or harassment in legal proceedings (or elsewhere),” the ABA argued.

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Our Standards: Thomson Reuters’ Guardian Principles.

David Thomas

Thomson Reuters

David Thomas reports on the legal business, including law firm strategy, compensation, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.


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