Tennessee Bar Association defeats anti-faith rule

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today praised the Tennessee Bar Association for fighting against a proposed rule that could have been used to force lawyers of faith to violate key tenants of their religion.

“Freedom of religion is one of the bedrocks upon which this country is founded. No American should be limited in his chosen profession because he or she holds certain values,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “Rules already in place prevent lawyers from engaging in discrimination. The proposed rule was merely an attempt to write political correctness into professional codes of conduct. I congratulate the Bar Association for fighting against this unnecessary rule.”

The proposed rule, written by the Board of Professional Responsibility, would have forbade lawyers from “engag[ing] in conduct, in a professional capacity, manifesting bias or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.”

By holding attorneys to this standard “in their professional capacity” rather than when representing clients, the new rules would have potentially prevented lawyers from a myriad of activities from declining to take a client on moral grounds to taking a public position on an issue like gay marriage while serving in a legislative body.

A lawyer found guilty of misconduct under the rule would have opened himself up to possible censure, fines or even suspension. In striking down the rule, the state Supreme Court preserved current rules that prevent discrimination in the course of representing a client.

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