{In keeping with the policies of Hit Coffee: this post is about judicial impropriety, the appearance of same, and its contributions to public loss of faith in the judiciary. Please keep your comments to those grounds. No license to slag upon republicans, democrats, gay, straight, lgbt, polka-dotted, or anyone else is warranted or implied.}

Over in Slate, an article by Dahlia Lithwick regarding why Vaughn Walker’s late-breaking announcement that he is gay should not be used as a reason to re-try the Prop 8 case on the grounds that Walker should have either (a) recused or (b) revealed his preferences pre-trial so that the question of recusal could at least have been brought up in court.

Meanwhile, the recent revelations that Clarence Thomas’s wife is/was a lobbyist with Tea Party organizations and other right wing groups making sizable sums per year, and that Clarence Thomas himself has direct links to the Citizens United group… who he happily helped rule, in a 5-4 decision, were entitled to spend unlimited money influencing elections in the US.

As a third point impugning both Thomas and Walker: Judicial Code of Conduct, Canon 2, adopted in the Federal courts as well as every State court system: A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities.

The appearance of impropriety is a strong problem. Politicians are regularly brought down, forced to resign or failing to re-elect, on the strength of an “appearance” of impropriety even if the letter of the law is not broken. Public officials of unelected nature often die on the vine in similar situations, forced to resign lest the elected officials who appointed/hired them face the same fate. When it comes to judicial impropriety, appearances do far worse; they make the citizenry distrust the courts. On a day-to-day basis, this much resembles the Badged Highwaymen conundrum, whereby citizens feel they do not get a “fair shake” without at least spending money on lawyers… who happen to be friends of judges and lawyers and cops… who, in essence, become the “gatekeepers” to actual justice, whether the facts are on the side of the citizens or not. In a larger picture, impropriety usually comes to the fore through stings: the cases of Thomas J Maloney and Mark Ciavarella come easily to mind.

More subtle, however, is the corrupting influence – whether payments to a spouse, or preferential treatment at events, will prejudice a judge. The comings and goings of other governmental employees, or spouses, routinely draw calls of corruption. The habit of lawyers for the almost-universally-despised RIAA to come and go from government positions, where they make often rulings that benefit the RIAA at the expense of common sense, and then leave to go to cushy, overpaid jobs at RIAA firms, certainly violate the appearance of impropriety. So, too, do the comings and goings of Wall Street personnel from Federal financial jobs, whether legal or accounting in nature.

And so we get around to Clarence Thomas and Vaughn Walker. Had Clarence Thomas and Antonio Scalia recused from the Citizens United case, what would the outcome be? We don’t know for certain, but it’s hard to imagine that those who believe CU was wrongly decided don’t have thousands of dollars worth of justification for their suspicion of impropriety. Likewise, despite Ms. Lithwick’s arguments – carefully constructed though they are – about why Vaughn Walker shouldn’t have recused, two things bug me. The first is that this argument should have been able to be brought before the trial even began; instead, the courtroom got its own annoying little sideshow whereby the judge’s supporters shouted an annoying cacophany of “he’s not” and “it doesn’t matter anyways.” Given how “revolutionary” his opinion was, given the accusations even from the beginning of the trial that he was trying to tilt the playing field… the appearance of impropriety, of bias, is a strong thing. Almost any other federal judge could have written the opinion Vaughn Walker wrote, and not had the appearance of impropriety that is fueling the current round of litigation. For the best results, a trial needs to be as evenhanded as possible. In the case of the Prop 8 trial, it seems that one side felt the tables were being tilted going in. Give them a “reason” to believe it was tilted, and you’ll never shake their faith that the game was rigged again. For this reason, I submit that Vaughn Walker was the wrong man to handle the trial.


Category: Courthouse

About the Author

Guy Webster (web) is an IT specialist at Southern Tech University, where he and Will Truman attended college.

20 Responses to Appearance of Impropriety

  1. trumwill says:

    I think that, broadly defined, the “appearance of impropriety” is an impossibly low threshold. Appearance to whom? Most of the time, it’s going to be in the interest of one party or the other to see impropriety because they know that the judge is more inclined to rule against them than other judges. There is little end to where it can be applied.

    Using this standard, David Souter should have been recused from Bush v Gore because he was appointed by Bush’s father. But he voted against Bush. Thomas was similarly appointed by Bush’s father, but voted the other way. The thing about being a federal judge (particularly at the SCOTUS level) is that you don’t have to worry about anything else because you have a job for life.

    I see little reason to believe that Thomas would have voted the other way if the suit had been bought fourth by Boeing. Or, in the other direction in a vote that hasn’t happened yet, that Kagan would have voted against PPACA’s mandate even if she hadn’t worked as SG (though this one is a bit of a closer call). Attempts to get them removed, despite having little reason to believe that the item in question would change their vote, strikes me as much as anything as an attempt to simply remove their vote.

    It’s the ultimate game in “working the refs.”

    The Walker case is a little different, but I ultimately come to the same conclusion. Prop 8’s supporters argue that gay marriage has a deleterious effect on straight marriage. It’s somewhat central to their legal claim. So as such… it’s hard to turn around and argue that being gay means you’re affected in a way that others aren’t.

    Should Clarence Thomas have been barred from voting on the Michigan affirmative action case because he’s black? Or should the other nine justices have because they’re the same race as those arguing that they are negatively impacted? There is an argument to be made that, under a broadly read “appearance of impropriety”, all of them should be removed.

    The only reservation I have about Walker is the lack of disclosure. But keeping to oneself on matters of homosexuality is considered a personal prerogative. Indeed, it’s those complaining about lack of disclosure that believe that gays should stay in the closet, or at least be quiet about their sexual preferences.

    {I think that Thomas’s ruling on Citizens United was correct, Kagan’s likely ruling on PPACA’s mandate to be correct, and – despite my support for gay marriage – Walker’s ruling on Prop 8 to be incorrect. I mention these for context, not to debate the merits of the individual case. The primary points here involve Appearances of Imrpopriety.}

  2. web says:

    Burt,

    I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. A judge ruling on something that necessarily affects his spouse’s (and thus his family’s!) income stream is most definitely a conflict of interest.

    A judge ruling on something that has direct effect on legal covenants that he may or may-not be free to enter into seems, to me, to fall into the same trap.

    Consider the following other hypotheticals:
    – A judge with a child who has major peanut allergies, supporting a law that peanuts must be banned from public school cafeterias or airplane meals. Conflict of interest, or not?

    – A judge ruling on a question of whether polygamy is constitutional, who turns out to be a member of the FLDS or some similar religious sect. Conflict of interest, or not?

    – A judge who is a member of a club that discriminates against people on the basis of race, who issues a statement of “public condemnation” of the practice but then rules that it is legal according to the constitution, and remains a member. Conflict of interest? (Note: this one has actually happened and is the reason Canon 2 in the federal level has a specific prohibition on judges being members of such an organization).

    – A judge hearing a property dispute in which his ex-wife is either plaintiff or defendant. Conflict of interest?

    One of the standard tactics of corrupt public officials is to pass “benefits” to the spouse, rather than the official directly. To pretend otherwise, and insist that it’s “no big deal”, is to ignore the elephant in the room.

  3. web says:

    Will,

    I’d like to address a couple points.

    Attempts to get them removed, despite having little reason to believe that the item in question would change their vote, strikes me as much as anything as an attempt to simply remove their vote.

    It’s the ultimate game in “working the refs.”

    Actually, the ultimate game in “working the refs” is Jurisdiction/Judge shopping, such as the stuff that gives us events like this, which is also – not coincidentally – why we have recusal rules in the first place.

    Using this standard, David Souter should have been recused from Bush v Gore because he was appointed by Bush’s father. But he voted against Bush. Thomas was similarly appointed by Bush’s father, but voted the other way. The thing about being a federal judge (particularly at the SCOTUS level) is that you don’t have to worry about anything else because you have a job for life.

    The unfortunate aspect here is that this is why the appointment process is fundamentally flawed. Allow one party to control all the wheels of the appointment process, and you allow them to force idealogues into jurisdiction who are incapable of impartial decisions. The end result you get is what we have in a number of jurisdictions – a court that inevitably splits 5-4 or 4-3 on partisan lines that have nothing to do with the law.

  4. trumwill says:

    A judge ruling on something that necessarily affects his spouse’s (and thus his family’s!) income stream is most definitely a conflict of interest.

    If Clarence Thomas were so inclined, he could resign tomorrow, attach his name to a huge law firm, and make ten times what he and his with both are currently making. Supreme Court justices (and federal judges more generally) are uniquely removed from a lot of the normal graft that comes with politics. Senators and congressmen have to worry about getting tossed out of office (with governors often term-limited besides) and so can feel that they need to curry favor to build a nest-egg or get a sweet job as a lobbyist. It’s even worse for appointees. Federal judges (except when they’re recess appointments) have the spot for life and, in modern history, either die with the job or live off the generous pension.

    Actually, the ultimate game in “working the refs” is Jurisdiction/Judge shopping, such as the stuff that gives us events like this, which is also – not coincidentally – why we have recusal rules in the first place.

    I don’t see a meaningful distinction between recusing a judge and relocating a trial. In both cases, you’re trying to get a judge more to your liking.

    The unfortunate aspect here is that this is why the appointment process is fundamentally flawed. Allow one party to control all the wheels of the appointment process, and you allow them to force idealogues into jurisdiction who are incapable of impartial decisions. The end result you get is what we have in a number of jurisdictions – a court that inevitably splits 5-4 or 4-3 on partisan lines that have nothing to do with the law.

    Except that Souter stands in contrast to that, having been a reliable “liberal” vote that was appointed by a Republican. And the way that the system is set up, Republicans could have blocked Sotomayor and Kagan and Democrats could have blocked Roberts and Scalia, if it mattered that much to them.

    It’s an inherently political process, to be sure. I wish it weren’t, but I don’t know of a better way of going about it. It sure beats the way states typically go about it, though.

  5. web says:

    If Clarence Thomas were so inclined, he could resign tomorrow, attach his name to a huge law firm, and make ten times what he and his with both are currently making.

    This does not negate the corrupting influence of people paying his wife for her advocacy on certain items which eventually wind up in front of him. His household certainly makes more money with her acting as lobbyist/money-funnel than it does if she were in many other careers.

    Supreme Court justices (and federal judges more generally) are uniquely removed from a lot of the normal graft that comes with politics.

    Sadly, they are not as removed as you give them credit for being. The politicizing of the judiciary is not a recent thing (witness attempts to pack the Supreme Court by FDR decades ago) but the recent hyper-politicization phase of American politics today has put us in a similar situation.

    Except that Souter stands in contrast to that, having been a reliable “liberal” vote that was appointed by a Republican.

    Appointed by a Republican. Confirmed by Democrats. Which leads back to my point, I believe.

    And the way that the system is set up, Republicans could have blocked Sotomayor and Kagan and Democrats could have blocked Roberts and Scalia, if it mattered that much to them.

    Counting the number of filibustered appointees over the years – including the complete joke that was Harriet Miers – it seems that this was a good thing. When it’s really mattered, the worst of the worst (from both sides) have been filibustered. What scares me is the idea of a nominee managing to sail through a “filibuster-proof” majority, then turn out to be a completely corrupt idealogue.

  6. trumwill says:

    This does not negate the corrupting influence of people paying his wife for her advocacy on certain items which eventually wind up in front of him. His household certainly makes more money with her acting as lobbyist/money-funnel than it does if she were in many other careers.

    If that was CU’s intent, they hired the wrong spouse. Thomas’s vote was never in doubt. He voted with the people he almost always votes with and voted against the people he typically votes against. Kennedy, not Thomas, was the crucial vote.

    Sadly, they are not as removed as you give them credit for being.

    I’m not giving them credit for being removed from politics, but rather graft. They don’t need anyone’s money for re-election. They don’t need a job for when their term expires or they are tossed out of office. They aren’t subject to many of the things that can lead politicians astray.

    On the political nature of it all, I don’t disagree. It’s a very political process. Because, well, it’s controlled by politicians. And readings of the Constitution and of law are inherently political besides. Heck, the very notion of “freedom” is always seen through an ideological (and thus, at least to a degree, political) lens.

    Appointed by a Republican. Confirmed by Democrats. Which leads back to my point, I believe.

    Confirmed by a Democratic senate, but all of his opposition came from the left and from Democrats. All of the votes against him, as well as pressure from interest groups. He was a Republican nominee. The Democrats could have prevented him from getting confirmed, as they did Bork, but they also could have prevented Roberts, Scalia, and every Republican appointee in existence. With the exception of the brief window where Sotomayor was confirmed with a filibuster-proof majority.

  7. Brandon Berg says:

    The game is rigged. Really, it can’t be otherwise. Everyone who cares about policy has a personal interest in seeing his own preferred policies enacted. And it’s pretty clear that judges often, perhaps even usually, put their policy preferences ahead of their duty to uphold the law. Why shouldn’t they? Ultimately, the Supreme Court is the de facto arbiter of what the law is—they can rule however they want and nobody can do a thing about it, short of a revolution.

    Given that the game is rigged, I think that maybe it’s a good thing for people to be reminded of it from time to time, to help them maintain a healthy level of distrust for the government. A government that commands more respect than it deserves is dangerous.

  8. Mike Hunt says:

    Every judge is going to bring his life experience into the bench with him. It is impossible to avoid. Even if you trained cloistered monks to become judges, their lack of life experience IS their life experience.

    Regarding your post, I would say that Walker is OK and Thomas is wrong. Walker was born gay. Thomas’ wife wasn’t born a lobbyist. Furthermore, Thomas has a direct financial interest in his case, which is the easiest conflict to identify.

  9. Burt Likko says:

    A judge with a child who has major peanut allergies, supporting a law that peanuts must be banned from public school cafeterias or airplane meals. Conflict of interest, or not? No. Judge should disclose fact to litigants but this fact pattern does not raise a reasonable possibility that this fact about the judge’s personal life would affect the decision. Besides, a state so obviously has the constitutional authority to control what foods are or are not eaten in a public school’s cafeteria that there is virtually no room for any judge of any personal circumstances to rule otherwise.

    A judge ruling on a question of whether polygamy is constitutional, who turns out to be a member of the FLDS or some similar religious sect. Conflict of interest, or not? As written, not. We don’t know if the judge in this case wishes to enter into a plural marriage and we can’t reasonably assume he will fail to be objective simply because of his religious preference. This is the closest to the Prop. 8 scenario — in the Prop. 8 case is wasn’t whether SSM was constitutional, it was whether a ban on SSM was constitutional. If it’s a case of a ban on polygamy here, then you’ve got the Prop. 8 case. And so now you’re suggesting that the judge’s religion, alone, raises a conflict of interest. And we still dn’t know whether or not the hypothetical judge intends to enter into plural marriages. Let’s say he does. Still no conflict of interest worthy of disqualification here, because the issue is not whether this judge can do this thing, but rather whether anyone can do it. It’s a generalized question of universally-held rights, and everyone is affected by it. Debatably, the judge should have disclosed his desire to enter into a plural marriage, but there is no good grounds for recusal here.

    A judge who is a member of a club that discriminates against people on the basis of race, who issues a statement of “public condemnation” of the practice but then rules that it is legal according to the constitution, and remains a member. Conflict of interest? (Note: this one has actually happened and is the reason Canon 2 in the federal level has a specific prohibition on judges being members of such an organization). Oh, you’re right about Canon 2 here, and there’s a real good reason for that. In point of fact, such a club is constitutional, protected by the First Amendment. If commercial activity takes place at the club, then it’s debatably subject to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in which case the club’s admission standards are contrary to law, but violation of a statute is not the same thing as violation of the Constitution. Because such a club would be engaged in an illegal practice, the judge should resign from the club for that reason.

    A judge hearing a property dispute in which his ex-wife is either plaintiff or defendant. Conflict of interest? No, because the judge has no personal financial stake in the outcome of the case. Appearance of impropriety yes, because many divorces end badly and it could be perceived that a ruling against the ex-spouse was motivated by spite rather than the merits of the dispute. Judge should recuse for that reason.

    Your point about financial interest to the spouse creating an appearance of impropriety is significantly stronger with Ginny and Clarence Thomas than it is with Judge Walker and his boyfriend (whose name I still do not know nor would that bit of trivia be all that interesting). Receipt of monetary fees for advocacy services rendered is qualitatively different, becasue of the directness of the payment, than receipt of things like health insurance benefits or the ability of the couple to pool assets with lower transaction costs, much less the intangible social prestige associated with marriage.

  10. web says:

    Besides, a state so obviously has the constitutional authority to control what foods are or are not eaten in a public school’s cafeteria that there is virtually no room for any judge of any personal circumstances to rule otherwise.

    Really?
    The state can tell mothers of the schoolchildren that they may not pack a PBJ sandwich in their kid’s lunchbox?

    I’ll agree the state has the right – through school administrators – to manage what is served in the cafeteria. Banning things from home-packed lunchboxes, on the other hand, is over the line.

    (This is not to say that I believe a voluntary request, should someone with a particularly bad food allergy be enrolled, is unwarranted. But giving it the force of law goes too far.)

    As written, not. We don’t know if the judge in this case wishes to enter into a plural marriage and we can’t reasonably assume he will fail to be objective simply because of his religious preference…

    No reasonable person would be willing to make the claim that an FLDS-member judge was impartial in the matter. Yet you try to do so with logic so tortured that it makes my head hurt in sympathy.

    The appearance of impropriety, in every one of these cases, is present.

    In the case of the peanut allergy, there is every reason for a parent to rule in favor of what will make the kid’s life easier, whether it is legally/constitutionally sound or not.

    In the case of a polygamist sect member, you split hairs on the claim “And we still dn’t know whether or not the hypothetical judge intends to enter into plural marriages.” Whether this judge, this minute, is chafing at the bit to engage a second spouse is not the point. The point is that to the outside observer, such a judge clearly has an interest in altering the legal landscape in his particular cult’s favor.

    In regard to the club situation, Official Comment on Canon 2C: …public manifestation by a judge of the judge’s knowing approval of invidious discrimination on any basis gives the appearance of impropriety under Canon 2 and diminishes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, in violation of Canon 2A.

    As regards the ex-spouse in court: clear appearance of impropriety because of the conflict of interest. Whether it is the conflict of interest in safeguarding inheritance prospects for marital children, or conflict of interest for or against the ex-wife: whatever the terms of the divorce, how acrimonious or not, the judge to any reasonable observer is far too emotionally entangled with her to be trusted to rule fairly in the case on merits. Again, it is the appearance of impropriety that Canon 2, in the federal code of conduct that Federal judges are required to follow that I linked above for you, is engaged to protect against.

    I shall boil it down to layman’s terms, though I know you as a lawyer in a self-perpetuating system hate that sort of thing: in each case, the judge has something specifically to gain from their ruling. It need not be “OMG bags of cash woohoo” to still be an appearance of impropriety.

  11. Burt Likko says:

    I suppose I’m being a lawyer and using a definition of “conflict of interest” that would be closer to “OMG bags of cash woohoo” (I might have used a more sober definition along the lines of “tangible personal advantage”) than the definition of the kind personal advantage you seem to think raises a “conflict of interest,” which to me seems too nebulous to permit principled application. In the case of the FLDS judge, if it isn’t the case that the judge personally wants to have a plural marriage, then the only personal advantage from a pro-polygamy ruling he gets is the mental satisfaction of seeing his own religious preferences within the scope of legal protection. That’s not a tangible enough interest to raise a conflict of interest in my mind; that seems more like a generalized feeling that “this was the right ruling” and every ruling by every judge is believed by that judge to be the right ruling and therefore a source of mental satisfaction.

    And I still think that when you change the Judge Walker scenario to an FLDS judge looking at polygamy, you’ve swapped out an irrational distrust of the judge’s sexual preference for an irrational distrust of the judge’s religion. That looks an awful lot like irrational distrust of the judge’s sex or race in others kinds of cases. I’m not good with that. Consider — if an FLDS judge makes it through the process of Presidential nomination and Senate review and approval, a large number of people evaluated whether any judge’s being in FLDS was politically acceptable, and that this particular judge was able to convince them that his own personal history demonstrates the ability to be fair and impartial when handling the cases before him. Granted that this evaluation process is imperfect, but at the same time, it means we can’t presume that a personal attribute of the judge like religion, sexual preference, race, or gender renders him innately incapable of fairness or impartiality. A reasonable person needs to see something more than that before an accusation of bias becomes justifiable. Not even the challenge to Judge Higginbotham on a race discrimination claim rested solely on the Judge’s race; the challenge there pointed to public remarks the Judge had given as well. And just as Judge Higginbotham was right to keep himself on that case, Judge Walker was an appropriate judge in the Prop. 8 case and the FLDS judge — absent any more facts in the hypo than what you gave — is an appropriate judge in the polygamy case.

    I think you’re trying to manufacture disagreement between us where there is none with respect to the ex-wife’s property dispute; there, we agree that the scenario presents the appearance of impropriety and the judge should recuse himself from that matter. What I’m trying to point out is that the “appearance of impropriety” is something different than an actual “conflict of interest.” You seem to be using those terms as interchangeable when they are not.

    And yes, the state does have the power to restrict what substances are brought on campus, including peanut butter, silly as that may seem. A school can ban chewing gum, no? That doesn’t mean I think it would be wise for a school to prohibit peanut products, but we’re in ‘rational basis’ territory here — the state possesses the basic Constitutional power to do this; there is fundamental individual liberty interest protected by the Constitution inclusive of the right to bring a peanut butter sandwich to school. Your pro-PBJ argument will have to appeal on a political level to the common sense of legislators, rather on a Constitutional claim to a judge about the contours of state power and individual liberties.

  12. Burt Likko says:

    Let me try it this way — can you articulate a reason why it’s permissible for an African-American judge to hear a race discrimination case but why it’s not permissible for a gay judge to hear the Prop. 8 case?

  13. trumwill says:

    Peanut butter was banned at one of the schools I taught at as a safety precaution for one of the kids, who had a serious allergy. As long as the ban isn’t discriminatory in nature (no kosher foods) and/or there’s a rational basis.

  14. Burt Likko says:

    Ack — user error. Make that “…there is no fundamental individual liberty interest protected by the Constitution inclusive of the right to bring a peanut butter sandwich to school.”

  15. Barry says:

    As has been pointed out, what I’ll call ‘status’ items (e.g., race, religion, gender, etc., as opposed to business/investment interests) have usually been raised against judges who are from lower-power groups.

    If the theory which you support is to be held, then any Catholic judge could not have heard the Prop 8 case, nor could any right-wing protestant judge.

  16. trumwill says:

    That’s a good point, Barry. If we would recuse an FLDS on the subject of plural marriage, I’m not sure why we wouldn’t recuse a Catholic on the subject of gay marriage – especially if gay marriage is an effrontry to the faith and Catholics are negatively impacted by gay marriage (which is core to the argument against it).

  17. Brandon Berg says:

    I’ll agree the state has the right – through school administrators – to manage what is served in the cafeteria. Banning things from home-packed lunchboxes, on the other hand, is over the line.

    Not when it comes to foods whose mere proximity could pose a danger to the safety of other students. I would agree that schools have no business banning foods on the basis that they are alleged to be unhealthful for the students consuming them, but I think it’s both permissible and reasonable to ban peanut products on a school-by-school basis when there’s a student who could be endangered by their presence.

  18. web says:

    Consider — if an FLDS judge makes it through the process of Presidential nomination and Senate review and approval, a large number of people evaluated whether any judge’s being in FLDS was politically acceptable, and that this particular judge was able to convince them that his own personal history demonstrates the ability to be fair and impartial when handling the cases before him.

    Not just that, however: the process of confirmation presumes that the judge will recuse himself in accordance with Canon 2 when appropriate. In a case where a practice his church promotes is up for ruling, any reasonable person would carry a doubt that he is capable of conducting a fair and equitable trial and ruling. Given that an FLDS-member judge will undoubtedly, even if personally not planning to engage in the practice, have serious personal connections to those who do in violation of current law, a ruling that it should be legally or constitutionally protected by said judge cannot be anything but suspect.

    In the case of Prop 8, I would love to refer you to an article (which alas I am having trouble finding, it being months old and Google results now being spammed with the latest news) in which a pro-gay-marriage lawyer at the time suggested not only that Walker should recuse, but that the entire trial was tainted by courtroom antics, lopsided decisions and fishing expeditions conducted during the discovery process, and the games played by California elected officials over properly defending the law. His point, as best as I can paraphrase, was that for a trial of this sort, there needs to be a heightened level of scrutiny and assurance that everything is done entirely aboveboard in order to minimize the number of people who reject the result out of hand.

    In other words: there is a need, especially with such a controversial issue, to make things scrupulously fair. Make it clear that each side got to present their best argument and was not being deliberately held back. Make it clear to both sides that all areas of merit have been thoroughly explored. With Walker and the Prop 8 trail, this is something I cannot say – there are definitely things in the trial record that give me pause, there are trial documents that very much indicate Walker had made his mind up long before the ruling, the disparity in resources caused by the conduct of California state officials (who had been opposed to Prop 8 to start with) causes trouble given the apparent dereliction of their constitutional duties and quite frankly, his witholding of the information adds more fuel to the fire of those who already had plenty of reasons to distrust that he was conducting himself in an unbiased manner.

    None of this is to say which way I believe on gay marriage, by the way. My point is that the current situation, including Walker’s failure to disclose information that should have at least created a reason to discuss recusal as a possibility, serves far too much to inflame the passions of those who are doggedly attached to one side or the other of the argument.

  19. Barry says:

    “In other words: there is a need, especially with such a controversial issue, to make things scrupulously fair. Make it clear that each side got to present their best argument and was not being deliberately held back. Make it clear to both sides that all areas of merit have been thoroughly explored. ”

    I’ve heard nothing to say that this didn’t happen.

Leave a Reply to Barry Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you are interested in subscribing to new post notifications,
please enter your email address on this page.

Espresso


Recent Comments


Queenland

Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.


Hit Categories


History Coffee