An Arkansas appeals court judge who successfully battled an ethics panel for the right to criticize President Bush and the war in Iraq was voted off the bench Tuesday, six years after his remarks first attracted controversy. Wendell Griffen, a Baptist minister who joined the state’s second-highest court in 1996, lost decisively to a juvenile court judge, reports the Associated Press. His opponent did not discuss Griffen’s comments during the campaign but credited them in part for her victory.
Griffen blamed the loss on low voter turnout rather than his political remarks, which were all made outside court. He said: “I would much rather have maintained my integrity and experienced these results than sacrificed my integrity for political expediency.” In defending his right to speak freely, Griffen relied mainly on a U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down Minnesota’s limits on free speech rights for judges. Arkansas’ court rules were similar to Minnesota’s.