Judges: Guard ‘your honor’ | ABA Journal

I’m a judge, and I admit it: I like being called “your honor.” Call me entitled if you want, but I disagree with the Kentucky federal judge who made headlines last fall for saying that modesty forbids him from accepting this distinction.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Beaton claimed in a May 2022 speech, which was later published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, that he rejects “your honor” because it smacks of the titles of nobility our constitution forbids.

Yet it’s likely that Judge Beaton isn’t really worried about whether “your honor” is a title of nobility. He’s just using the nobility clause to illustrate a point that what judges do doesn’t deserve such deference. Judge Beaton and other originalists argue that judges only “discover” law and put no part of themselves into the process.

I take a different view. Laws, including constitutions, are living…Read More


Thomas G. Moukawsher is a Connecticut complex litigation judge. He is a former co-chair of the ABA Committee on Employee Benefits, and he is the author of the forthcoming book from Brandeis University Press, The Common Flaw: Needless Complexity in the Courts and 50 Ways to Reduce It.

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