Judge refuses to order Congress to outlaw parts of the Koran or issue an official federally edited Koran

From Levay v. United States, handed down Wednesday by a federal district court:

On February 17, 2017, Plaintiff Ross Levay filed a complaint alleging that the United States and various government officials have committed gross negligence, breach of contract, First Amendment violations, and breach of oath by failing to prevent “incitement to imminent lawlessness” by “Radical Islamic Terrorists.”… [On July 11, 2017], the Court … concluded that Levay’s suit was frivolous and would be dismissed. On July 21, 2017, Levy filed a “Motion to Amend Judgment[,]” [asking, among other things, that the court] amend the previous order to remove the holding that the suit is “frivolous[.]” …

In his complaint, Levay explains that “there have been a high and increasing number of Islamic motivated violent acts targeting Jews and our places of worship.”. Levay is a Jew and contends that the “incitement to imminent violence” found in the Quran and “cited by ISIS, Al Qaeda” and others has deprived Levay of “the freedom of religious expression.”

Levay provides an extensive list of requested relief. He wishes the Court to hold that “specific Koranic verses, presented during the trial, fail the Imminent Lawlessness Test.” He also intends to prove a “direct link to specific Koranic verses extolling among specific Radical Islamic Terrorists as the underlying motive, cause and essential ‘but for’ for 74 specific Radical Islamic Terrorist attacks within the US.” He desires a “formal declaration of incompatibility between Koranic Sharia Law … and US Constitutional Law.” He also asks that the Court direct Congress to take action by outlawing certain passages of the Quran, issue a federally sanctioned and edited Koran, and withdraw tax-exempt status from mosques which do not adopt the new Quran, and institute a “National Islamic Registry Program.” …

The Court found that Levay’s suit was frivolous for the following reasons:

First, Levay lacks standing to bring this suit. Levay’s suit seeks relief for the threat of violence that Islamic extremism poses to him and his community. But he does not allege injury to him personally, or an imminent, particularized threat of future injury. Even if Levay did allege an actionable injury, the Court does not have the authority to direct Congress to legislate on an issue, much less vanquish the specter of religiously-motivated violence.

And, more fundamentally, Levay’s requests for a state-issued Koran, a national registry of Muslims, and financial sanctions for rogue mosques offend basic constitutional principles. The First Amendment forbids Congress from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” …

Levay contends that he has sufficiently alleged an injury which gives rise to standing because he has experienced “fear-based and chill-effect injuries [to his] right to free-exercise.” Levay repeatedly contends that religious terrorism has had a “chill-effect” on his “own Free-Exercise rights,” but does not specifically explain what impact the threat of religious terrorism has had on his behavior. He asks in his objections whether “a credible threat of attack on places of worship, based on a pattern of actual recent occurrences, [would] make one think twice about attending places of religious worship? Would a reasonable person, [sic] consider just staying home instead of bringing their child to a place of worship?” But those questions fall short of actually demonstrating that Levay’s own right of free exercise has been impacted by religious terrorism.

The landmark Supreme Court case on “fear-based” standing is Laird v. Tatum (1972). In Laird, the plaintiffs were challenging the Army’s “alleged ‘surveillance of lawful and peaceful civilian political activity.’” The Court explained that an individual’s fear that an “agency might in the future take some other and additional action detrimental to that individual” does in some cases create a “chilling effect” that can give rise to standing.

But, the Supreme Court explained, in all cases where standing existed “the challenged exercise of governmental power was regulatory, proscriptive, or compulsory in nature, and the complainant was either presently or prospectively subject to the regulations, proscriptions, or compulsions that he was challenging.” The Supreme Court found that the plaintiffs in Laird had not adequately alleged an injury that could give rise to standing…. “Allegations of a subjective ‘chill’ are not an adequate substitute for a claim of specific present objective harm or a threat of specific future harm; ‘the federal courts established pursuant to Article III of the Constitution do not render advisory opinions.’”

The fear-based injury which Levay alleges here is analogous to the injury alleged in Laird. Levay repeatedly establishes his generalized fear that he or his loved ones may be victims of religiously-motivated violence. But he has provided no examples of specific harm or impact that the threat of religious violence has actually inflicted on him, personally. Nor are there any plausible, well-pleaded allegations in the complaint which would support a finding that objective harm to Levay is imminent. Rather, Levay’s fear is manifestly subjective and thus, as explained in Laird, insufficiently specific to give rise to standing….

Levay next argues that this Court has authority to provide Levay the remedies he seeks because “the judiciary has usurped and taken over Congress’s legislative role, even conferred constitutional rights, bypassing the amendment procedure… [But u]nlike in the examples he cites, where federal courts overturned federal statutes as incompatible with the Constitution, Levay asks this Court to direct Congress to outlaw certain passages of the Quran, issue a federally sanctioned Quran, withdraw tax-exempt status from mosques which do not adopt the new Quran, and institute a National Islamic Registry Program. The Court has no authority to order Congress to take action….

Even if the Court had authority to direct Congress to take action, the remedies which Levay requests would violate the Constitution. Levay argues that his proposed remedies do not violate the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment because “[a] religious belief system cannot be greater than the law of the land, the US Constitution.” But, to the contrary, the Constitution prohibits the federal government from singling out a particular religion for hostile treatment.

Levay argues that violence committed under the guise of religion should not be protected by the Constitution. But he is not requesting the criminalization of religiously-motivated violence (because, of course, any crimes committed will be prosecuted regardless of whether they were religiously motivated or not). Rather, Levay is requesting, among other things, that the Court rewrite the Muslim holy book. It is difficult to imagine greater government entanglement with religion….

For the reasons provided above and in the July 11, 2017, opinion and order, Levay’s suit is frivolous. His legal theory is manifestly foreclosed by settled law. As such, no appeal could be taken in good faith and Levay will not be granted leave to appeal in forma pauperis [i.e., without paying the usual fees required for filing an appeal]. Levay’s requests to certify the suit as non-frivolous and grant him leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be denied….

Originally Found On: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/08/18/judge-refuses-to-order-congress-to-outlaw-parts-of-the-koran-or-issue-an-official-federally-edited-koran/

Odd statement from the ACLU of California: ‘White Supremacist Violence is Not Free Speech’

The three California ACLU chapters put out a joint ACLU of California Statement: White Supremacist Violence is Not Free Speech:

“Our country’s greatest strengths are the diversity of its people and the principles of equal dignity and inclusion that unite us all. There are troubling events planned in our state in the coming weeks. This is an incredibly painful and difficult time for millions of Californians. For those who are wondering where we stand — the ACLU of California fully supports the freedom of speech and expression, as well as the freedom to peacefully assemble. We review each request for help on a case-by-case basis, but take the clear position that the First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence. If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution. The First Amendment should never be used as a shield or sword to justify violence.

This seems like an odd statement, especially given that the context is presumably the call to rescind the permit for an “alt-right” rally in San Francisco:

Everyone, I take it, agrees that violence, white supremacist or otherwise, isn’t speech. And the First Amendment doesn’t protect people who “incite violence” in the sense of engaging in speech intended to and likely to promote imminent criminal conduct (the Brandenburg v. Ohio standard) — a category that the courts have always read narrowly, and that the ACLU has said should be read narrowly. But as I understand the traditional position of the ACLU, it is that speech and assembly must be allowed, even if violence and unprotected incitement (or threats) at the event are punished. (I’m also pretty sure that no one is legally going into San Francisco “armed to the teeth”; even the most law-abiding Californians are generally not allowed to do that.)

The question facing California government officials, as I understand it, is not whether to allow violence or constitutionally unprotected incitement. Rather, it’s whether the government can ban events — of whatever political stripe — based on a fear that the speakers or some of the attendees may engage in violence (or in unprotected incitement). The answer, under modern First Amendment doctrine that the ACLU has generally helped develop, is “no.” I would have thought that people want to know about the ACLU of California’s position on that question, and not on whether “violence” (white supremacist or otherwise) is free speech.

I asked the ACLU spokesman who sent around the statement about this:

I blog at the Washington Post site, and I’m writing something about the ACLU statement on “White Supremacist Violence is Not Free Speech.” Of course, violence of any sort isn’t free speech, but I’m wondering what the ACLU’s position is on the proposals to revoke the “alt right” rally permit in Northern California, and similar calls to ban such events. Can you tell me, please, if the statement is meant to address that, and what the ACLU’s position on that would be?

The answer I got:

This is what we have to offer for now. We will circle back with you if anything changes.

Originally Found On: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/08/16/odd-statement-from-the-aclu-of-california-white-supremacist-violence-is-not-free-speech/

Un-American activities

I’ve been struck by the similarity between recent calls for suppressing white supremacist speech and past calls for suppressing Communist speech. Of course, there are differences as well — there always are for any analogy — but I thought I’d note some likenesses:

  Communist speech, 1950s White supremacist speech, 2017
Calls for speakers to be fired and blacklisted ✓ ✓
Claims that the speech falls outside the First Amendment ✓ ✓
… because the speech is inconsistent with basic constitutional values ✓ (democracy, private property, free speech, religious freedom, etc.) ✓ (equality)
… because its supporters don’t support free speech rights for others ✓ ✓
… because its supporters support violence and not just peaceful change ✓ ✓
… because similar movements overseas are responsible for killing millions ✓ ✓
… because similar movements in the U.S. are responsible for various terror attacks over the decades ✓ ✓
… because this speech isn’t just speech but is itself violence ✓ (e.g., “‘words are bullets’ and the communists know it and use them so”) ✓
Loose use of the labels to taint legitimate dissenters ✓ (Communist, fellow traveler) ✓ (fascist, racist)

And indeed, in the 1950s one of the leading intellectual forces on the Court behind allowing various restrictions on Communist advocacy (Justice Frankfurter) was also willing to uphold “group libel” laws in Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952); that’s the one Supreme Court decision that authorized restrictions on racist speech, though it is widely viewed as no longer good law in light of later cases, just as some of the decisions upholding restrictions on Communist advocacy in the early 1950s are viewed as no longer good law. Similarly, Justice Jackson, though he dissented in Beauharnais, made clear that he would uphold narrowly crafted “group libel” laws, and he likewise voted to allow various restrictions on Communist advocacy. The main supporters of the rights even of Communists? Justices Black and Douglas, who also wrote the most speech-protective dissents in Beauharnais.

Communists, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates — I can’t stand them. They are supporters of ideologies of slavery and murder. They are losers, who lost for very good reason. But their speech should be protected, I think; and the cases for stripping protection from such speech have always been very similar.

Originally Found On: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/08/16/un-american-activities/

Libel by quotation out of context

An interesting opinion Tuesday, from a unanimous U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit panel (Block v. Tanenhaus:

Walter Block is an economics professor … at Loyola University and is an Adjunct Scholar at the Mises Institute. He alleges that, consistent with his published writings and his self-described libertarian views, he articulated the following position during an interview with the New York Times (NYT):

Free association is a very important aspect of liberty. It is crucial. Indeed, its lack was the major problem with slavery. The slaves could not quit. They were forced to “associate” with their masters when they would have vastly preferred not to do so. Otherwise, slavery wasn’t so bad. You could pick cotton, sing songs, be fed nice gruel, etc. The only real problem was that this relationship was compulsory. It violated the law of free association, and that of the slaves’ private property rights in their own persons. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, then, to a much smaller degree of course, made partial slaves of the owners of establishments like Woolworths.

Block alleges that the NYT misrepresented his statements in an article that attributed racist views to libertarian scholars and discussed how ties with libertarian thinkers would impact Senator Rand Paul’s potential presidential candidacy.

The NYT article quoted Block twice, first as “[o]ne economist” and later by name as “Walter Block.” The first quotation appeared in the immediate context of the statement that some Mises Institute scholars “have championed the Confederacy.” It noted that “[o]ne economist, while faulting slavery because it was involuntary, suggested in an interview that the daily life of the enslaved was ‘not so bad—you pick cotton and sing songs.’” Roughly eight pages or fifty-three paragraphs later, the article quoted Block by name in a paragraph that read as follows:

Walter Block, an economics professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who described slavery as “not so bad,” is also highly critical of the Civil Rights Act. “Woolworth’s had lunchroom counters, and no blacks were allowed,” he said in a telephone interview. “Did they have a right to do that? Yes, they did. No one is compelled to associate with people against their will.”

This paragraph appeared in the context of a discussion about the links between the Paul family and the Mises Institute, which questioned Senator Rand Paul’s ability to distance himself from unpopular positions taken by Mises Institute scholars. [Footnote: The immediate context of this paragraph associates Block with one scholar who opposed Brown v. Board of Education and with another scholar who applauded a KKK member’s “right-wing populism.”]

Block sued the NYT ….

A statement is actionably false if it “would have a different effect on the mind of the reader from that which the pleaded truth would have produced.” Inaccuracy in a quotation is not actionable “unless the alteration results in a material change in the meaning conveyed by the statement.” On the other hand, “an exact quotation out of context can distort meaning, although the speaker did use each reported word.” Thus, falsity is determined not only by the words in a purported quotation, but also “by reference to the meaning a statement conveys to a reasonable reader.” …

Block argues that, although he used the words attributed to him by the NYT, there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the NYT distorted the meaning of his statements by omitting crucial context. According to Block, the NYT communicated that he did not object to chattel slavery and implied that he was a racist when it stated, “Walter Block, an economics professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who described slavery as ‘not so bad,’ is also highly critical of the Civil Rights Act.”

Block states that he used the words “not so bad” in a context that showed he was assessing the counterfactual and ahistorical scenario of slavery in the absence of any coercion rather than chattel slavery. He points out that the deprivation of personal autonomy is antithetical to the libertarian views he expressed. In sum, Block believes that his statements underscored the importance of free association and condemned chattel slavery precisely because it was involuntary, but that the NYT quoted him out of context to make it appear that he considered chattel slavery “not so bad.”

Because the omission of context can distort the meaning of a direct quotation, there is a genuine fact issue as to whether the article misrepresented Block’s statements. [See, e.g.,] Price v. Stossel (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that there was a jury question as to falsity when a television broadcast used video clips of a pastor describing a wealthy man with a spiritually unfulfilled life because the original context of the pastor’s statements indicated he was discussing a hypothetical individual but the context in the broadcast suggested he was discussing himself); Sassone v. Elder (La. 1993) (suggesting that there was a jury question as to falsity when a television broadcast used a district attorney’s allegedly hypothetical statement in a context that suggested he was assessing the actual conduct of a specific criminal defendant, but ultimately deciding on other grounds). If, as Block has pleaded, he stated during the interview that slavery was “not so bad” except for its involuntariness, a reasonable jury could determine that the NYT’s decontextualized quotation falsely portrayed him as communicating that chattel slavery itself was not problematic—exactly the opposite of the point that he says he was making.

The NYT offers three arguments to the contrary, but none are sufficient to merit dismissal at this stage in the litigation. First, the NYT argues that it was correct in stating that Block described chattel slavery as “not so bad.” According to the NYT, his reference to picking cotton and singing songs “leaves no room for doubt” that he was describing chattel slavery.

However, stating that cotton-picking and song-singing are “not so bad” in themselves, if done without coercion, is not at all the same thing as saying that chattel slavery was “not so bad.” Chattel slavery by definition involves coercion and being treated as the property of another, and Block alleges that the context of his original statement indicated his view that coercion is unacceptable and violates people’s rights as belonging to themselves.

If the context of his statement is what he alleges, Block’s statement made clear that he would only describe slavery as “not so bad” to the extent that, unlike chattel slavery, it was voluntary. Accordingly, we reject the argument that Block’s references to cotton and songs conclusively demonstrate that the NYT was correct in stating that Block considered chattel slavery to be “not so bad.”

Second, the NYT argues that it communicated Block’s objection to coercion by stating earlier in the article that an unnamed economist, “while faulting slavery because it was involuntary, suggested in an interview that the daily life of the enslaved was ‘not so bad … .’” This statement could be relevant to the meaning that the article as a whole communicates to a reasonable reader about Block’s views on slavery.

However, the statement does not mention Block by name and appears roughly eight pages before the paragraph of which Block complains. Thus, it could be that a reasonable reader would not associate the two passages and would not infer that Block, who “described slavery as ‘not so bad,’” is the same person as the unnamed economist who “fault[ed] slavery because it was involuntary.”

In fact, the president of the university at which Block teaches failed to draw this inference and wrote a public letter criticizing Block for “claim[ing] that chattel slavery ‘was not so bad’” and stating that Block had contradicted his own libertarian principles by suggesting that “slavery enforced against someone’s free will” was acceptable. The record also contains a police report indicating that, after the article’s publication, two young men approached Block on the campus at which he teaches and told him, “You’re the [expletive] who said slavery was okay. We’re gonna getcha.” We conclude there is a fact issue regarding the meaning that the article conveys to a reasonable reader.

Third, the NYT argues that Block’s pleaded truth would have had the same “effect on the mind of the reader” as the message that the article conveyed. The district court itself stated that both the NYT’s portrayal of Block and Block’s own statements, accurately conveyed, would “ignite fury” in readers. However, the “effect on the mind of the reader” does not refer to the emotions that a statement incites. Rather, it refers to “the meaning a statement conveys to a reasonable reader.” …

Because Block is a public figure, the fault element of his claims requires proof of actual malice, which is defined as knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. Block argues that there is a fact issue as to actual malice wherever a news source materially alters the meaning of a quotation. See Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc. (1991) (holding that there is a fact question as to actual malice where a news source alters a quote in a manner that changes its meaning).

The NYT does not dispute this characterization of the law. Rather, it contends that it did not materially alter the meaning of the quotation. Similarly, the district court based its determination that Block failed to create a fact issue as to actual malice on its view that the NYT did not change the meaning of the quotation but accurately communicated Block’s views. As discussed above, there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the NYT altered the meaning of the quotation. Accordingly, the district court’s determination and the NYT’s argument depend on a factual premise that has not yet been established, and dismissal for failure to create a fact issue as to actual malice was premature.

Seems right to me: Courts should be hesitant to find that a factually accurate quote is libelous, but words only have meaning in context, and if a quote is taken far enough out of context, it may falsely convey the speaker’s actual meaning even if the speaker literally said those words.

Originally Found On: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/08/16/libel-by-quotation-out-of-context/

Can private employers fire employees for going to a white supremacist rally?

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia. (Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via Reuters)

That turns out to depend on the state where the employee is employed. (Note that I’m speaking here of firing for attending such a rally or speaking at it, not engaging in criminal violence connected with it.)

1. The First Amendment applies only to government employers; it doesn’t apply to nongovernmental entities (whether or not those entities have government funding or contracts). Let’s focus then on private employers who fire such employees based on their own judgment (not because of some pressure from the government, which may well be unconstitutional).

2. Private employers are, of course, bound by various statutes. But federal employment law bans discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability and various kinds of labor-union-related activity. It doesn’t ban discrimination based on political affiliation.

3. A substantial minority of states, though, do ban discrimination based on political activity, especially off-the-job political activity; some cities and counties do as well. I cataloged them in 2012 in my article “Private Employees’ Speech and Political Activity: Statutory Protection Against Employer Retaliation“; since then, Utah has enacted a similar statute as well.

a. Some statutes ban employers from firing employees for “political activity,” including ideological advocacy generally and not just election-related politics. California, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia seem to fall in this category; there are similar ordinances in Seattle and Madison, and a New Mexico statute may also fit here, though it’s a bit more ambiguous.

b. Connecticut protects employees from retaliation for their speech more broadly.

c. Colorado and North Dakota ban employers from firing employees for any off-duty lawful activity; that would cover speech as well.

d. New York bans employers from firing employees for off-duty “recreational activities”; it’s not clear to what extent going to rallies would qualify.

e. Still other statutes apply to belonging to, endorsing or affiliating with a political party, something that probably wouldn’t cover ideological rallies such as this — we see that in D.C., Iowa, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Broward County (Fla.), and Urbana (Ill.).

f. Illinois, New York and Washington laws apply to election-related activities, which again wouldn’t apply just to rallies. (In New York, this is in addition to the recreational activity statute; some states, such as New York, have two statutes that protect two different kinds of activities.)

g. Some states have laws limited to signing election-related petitions, or giving campaign contributions: Arizona, D.C., Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and (the campaign contributions laws) Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Oregon; Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Guam might also fit this category.

4. Some of these laws actually make it a crime to fire an employee on these grounds; I think all would likely authorize civil lawsuits.

5. Some apply to refusals to hire as well as to firing; others don’t.

6. What if the employer concludes that the off-the-job speech has badly hurt morale or relationships with customers? Some of the statutes expressly provide that the employer has some latitude in such cases (though it varies statute by statute, and such exemptions are generally fairly narrow).

Others seem to protect all political activity, even highly controversial activity. The Louisiana Court of Appeal, for instance, has held that the ban applies even when “the ‘business’ justification for firing plaintiff in this case is a real one,” such as that plaintiff’s political advocacy “would antagonize persons who could withdraw business from plaintiff’s employer.” And this is consistent with other antidiscrimination laws: For instance, an employer can’t fire an employee based on the employee’s religion even when coworkers or customers very much disapprove of that religion, and threaten to quit or boycott the company.

7. In principle, such state laws could be preempted by federal law, and I’ve heard some suggest that such firings might be called for by workplace harassment law, on the theory that the very presence of a known white supremacist or neo-Nazi employee would create a “hostile work environment” for nonwhite or Jewish employees. But I don’t think that would be a viable defense for the employer.

I do think that hostile environment harassment law can sometimes pose serious First Amendment problems (because it involves the government pressuring private employers to restrict speech in the workplace based on its content and viewpoint); and some, though by no means all, of the few courts that have considered the issue have likewise said that the First Amendment may preempt hostile environment harassment claims in some situations. But whatever one thinks of that debate, I’ve never seen any case that holds employers liable for a supposedly hostile environment created by an employee’s off-the-job political speech (at least when the speech isn’t specifically targeted at the employee’s particular coworkers). There’s thus no conflict between federal harassment law and these state speech protection laws, at least when it comes to off-the-job speech.

Originally Found On: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/08/16/can-private-employers-fire-employees-for-going-to-a-white-supremacist-rally/

Judgment or judgement?

A few days ago, I wrote about a document sent to Google purporting to be a court’s “judgement entry” — but which the judge, when I contacted him, told me that he had never entered. (The person who appears to have sent the document to Google claims that the document was just a proposal of his, but that’s not how it was framed when it was sent.)

This then led to a discussion in the comments about whether the spelling “judgement” was a giveaway, because “judgment” is the standard form. And that in turn led to the following from a commenter:

Judgement is the accepted spelling in British English. Webster first recorded the misspelling of judgment in his 1828 American Dictionary of our English Language, and Americans have been misspelling most of our true English words since then. If you’re an avid reader, you’ve likely see it spelled two different ways across various sources and not many writers are sure when to use which one. There is no demonstrable difference of sense or function between them, meaning both spellings of the word can be used interchangeably. I really do not like the way that judgment appears on the page. I much prefer judgement, but if you like judgment, you won’t be judged in the UK or the US.

Here’s my sense of the matter.

1. In American English, “judgment” vastly predominates. “Judgement” is listed in dictionaries (see, e.g., the American Heritage Dictionary), but “judgment” has been more than 10 times more common in recent years. The ratio used to be even more lopsided:

(I love Google Ngrams; click here to see a larger image.)

2. In American legalese, “judgment” even more sharply predominates. Looking just at Aug. 1 to Aug. 15 of this year, “judgment” wins 5486 to 91. When the difference is so lopsided, using the minority spelling (“judgement”) will be jarring to many readers, and will make many readers think less of you (whether rightly or not).

3. In British English, “judgment” still predominates, but not by as much — in recent years, “judgment” has been slightly less than twice as common as “judgement”:

4. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “judgment” was the dominant spelling in British English generally from the late 1600s until the 1800s, and remains the dominant spelling when referring to court decisions:

The word is found in spellings with -dgm- from the early 16th cent., and by the late 17th cent. judgment had become the prevailing spelling, although judgement was still commonly found. Kersey (1702) is an unusually early example of a dictionary in which the headword form was given as judgement. During the 19th cent. the form judgement gained in frequency in British contexts, and is now the usual spelling in general British use, but judgment has remained the standard spelling in British legal contexts when used to refer to a judicial decision (see sense 8), as well as in U.S. usage.

Originally Found On: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/08/16/judgment-or-judgement/