Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Roberts Ethics Problem

I wonder if anyone cares. I'm sure the right considers this to be just business as usual.
"Did administration officials or Roberts ask whether it was proper to conduct interviews for a possible Supreme Court nomination while the judge was adjudicating the government's much-disputed claims of expansive presidential powers? Did they ask whether it was appropriate to do so without informing opposing counsel?

If they had asked, they would have discovered that the interviews violated federal law on the disqualification of judges. Federal law deems public trust in the courts so critical that it requires judges to step aside if their 'impartiality might reasonably be questioned,' even if the judge is completely impartial as a matter of fact. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a 1988 Supreme Court opinion, 'the very purpose of [this law] is to promote confidence in the judiciary by avoiding even the appearance of impropriety whenever possible.' The requirement of an appearance of impartiality has been cited in situations like the one here, leading to the disqualification of a judge or the reversal of a verdict."

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