First Amendment

Immigration judge sues Justice Department, claims recusal order chills her free-speech rights


An immigration judge in Los Angeles has sued the Justice Department for alleged discrimination and violations of her First Amendment rights after she was ordered to recuse in cases of Iranian immigrants.

Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor claims in the suit (PDF) that she was ordered to recuse in 2012 because of her Iranian heritage and her participation in Iranian-American community activities, report the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Daily Journal (sub. req.). The suit claims violations of Tabaddor’s free speech and associational rights under the First Amendment and discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act.

Cooley filed the suit on behalf of Tabaddor. The National Association of Immigration Judges supports the suit. “The suggestion that an immigration judge cannot fairly administer the law because of the judge’s racial or ethnic heritage, or association with a particular race, national origin or religion sets a dangerous precedent,” the group says in a press release (PDF).

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