Warm Southern Breeze

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Amy Coney Barrett: Will she follow the law of recusal?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, October 15, 2020

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the President’s nominee to be a Supreme Court Justice, has dodged the question of recusal on any potential case which might come before her which would be brought by the President on any matter pertaining to the 2020 General Election. She dodged because she replied that she would follow the law of recusal.

She said in part that, “I commit to you to fully and faithfully applying the law of recusal. … I will apply the factors that other justices have before me in determining whether the circumstances require my recusal or not. But I can’t offer a legal conclusion right now about the outcome of the decision I would reach.”

When asked about the law of recusal, she said in part that, “I can’t offer an opinion on recusal without short-circuiting the entire process.”

When specifically asked about election cases, she stated to the effect that it wasn’t a question she could answer “in the abstract.”

Obviously, she is aware of the law’s requirements, but what is concerning is if she will obey (follow) the law.

There could be an argument made that she has no interest in the case, per se, at least insofar as she was not a member of the President’s administration, nor had she done any work for him.

There are several disconcerting aspects of this matter, none of which concern her judicial temperament, nor her judicial philosophy, nor her rulings. First is that she has allowed herself to be used by the GOP and the President to force her, as their nominee, through the confirmation process in the midst of an ongoing election. Already, millions of people have voted.

Secondarily is Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s actions, in conjunction with the President’s efforts, to rush the nominee through the process. Rushed things are rarely done with high quality, or long-term thoughtfulness. Further, that “Moscow” Mitch McConnell has deliberately stalled, or “killed” well over 400 bills from the House of Representatives is prima facie evidence of his contempt for the Constitution, and legislative process. And that he has similarly refused to act upon any bill which would first, and foremost, deal with the matter of the coronavirus, aka COVID-19, and the needs of the people for their health, their needs for economic sustenance, and more, is again, hard-core evidence not merely of a lack of caring, but is an abandonment of his responsibilities to the American people, not merely to the citizens of Kentucky whose interests he is supposed to represent.

To the extent that Amy Coney Barrett participates in that wretched process, she is complicit in it all. She has, in effect, become a political tool, and is doing so knowingly.

Were she to have requested a delay of her hearings until after the election – a delay of a few mere weeks – she would likely have not garnered such opposition. For she is, in my considered estimation, more than a well-qualified jurist, and would be a good addition to the United States Supreme Court. Even 88 University of Notre Dame faculty members wrote an open letter to her, stating that it was “vital” that she “issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election.”

In the letter, those faculty members also wrote in part that, “The rushed nature of your nomination process, which you certainly recognize as an exercise in raw power politics, may effectively deprive the American people of a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court justice,” and stated that “you can refuse to be party to such maneuvers. We ask that you honor the democratic process and insist the hearings be put on hold until after the voters have made their choice.”

And goodness knows, we need more legal diversity on the nation’s highest court, and I don’t mean to refer to sex, ethnicity, or any physical factor – I mean to refer to the schools of law which the nominees have attended. And as she herself has noted,

“I would be the first mother of school-age children to serve on the Court. I would be the first Justice to join the Court from the Seventh Circuit in 45 years. And I would be the only sitting Justice who didn’t attend law school at Harvard or Yale. I am confident that Notre Dame will hold its own, and maybe I could even teach them a thing or two about football.”

Would she be my pick?

Perhaps not, but again, it is the rushed nature of this event which is most exceedingly distasteful. Hypocrisy has neither a pleasing aroma, nor taste.

Finally, there are other matters concerning the Supreme Court which desperately need to be addressed, which undoubtedly will not have an opportunity to be discussed simply because of the Senate Majority Leader’s deliberately destructive tactics to “kill” legislation.

The verbatim transcript of her remarks has not yet been prepared by the Congressional Record. When it is ready, it will appear here:
https://www.congress.gov/event/116th-congress/senate-event/328163?s=1&r=8

Hearings to examine the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, of Indiana, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. 116th Congress (2019-2020)

Committee: Senate Judiciary
Related Items: PN2252
Date: Tuesday October 13, 2020 (9:00 AM EDT)
Location: 216 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Website: https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/

And so, for your benefit, here is the law of recusal to which she referred. You can, and should, read it for yourself. It’s not difficult to understand, and is straightforward, without mumbo jumbo jargon.

28 USC 455: Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge
Text contains those laws in effect on October 12, 2020

From Title 28-JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE

PART I-ORGANIZATION OF COURTS
CHAPTER 21-GENERAL PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO COURTS AND JUDGES

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Source Credit
Amendments
Change of Name
Effective Date

§455. Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances:

(1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;

(2) Where in private practice he served as lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom he previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or such lawyer has been a material witness concerning it;

(3) Where he has served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, adviser or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy;

(4) He knows that he, individually or as a fiduciary, or his spouse or minor child residing in his household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;

(5) He or his spouse, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them, or the spouse of such a person:

(i) Is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;

(ii) Is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;

(iii) Is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;

(iv) Is to the judge’s knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.

(c) A judge should inform himself about his personal and fiduciary financial interests, and make a reasonable effort to inform himself about the personal financial interests of his spouse and minor children residing in his household.

(d) For the purposes of this section the following words or phrases shall have the meaning indicated:

(1) “proceeding” includes pretrial, trial, appellate review, or other stages of litigation;

(2) the degree of relationship is calculated according to the civil law system;

(3) “fiduciary” includes such relationships as executor, administrator, trustee, and guardian;

(4) “financial interest” means ownership of a legal or equitable interest, however small, or a relationship as director, adviser, or other active participant in the affairs of a party, except that:

(i) Ownership in a mutual or common investment fund that holds securities is not a “financial interest” in such securities unless the judge participates in the management of the fund;

(ii) An office in an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization is not a “financial interest” in securities held by the organization;

(iii) The proprietary interest of a policyholder in a mutual insurance company, of a depositor in a mutual savings association, or a similar proprietary interest, is a “financial interest” in the organization only if the outcome of the proceeding could substantially affect the value of the interest;

(iv) Ownership of government securities is a “financial interest” in the issuer only if the outcome of the proceeding could substantially affect the value of the securities.

(e) No justice, judge, or magistrate judge shall accept from the parties to the proceeding a waiver of any ground for disqualification enumerated in subsection (b). Where the ground for disqualification arises only under subsection (a), waiver may be accepted provided it is preceded by a full disclosure on the record of the basis for disqualification.

(f) Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this section, if any justice, judge, magistrate judge, or bankruptcy judge to whom a matter has been assigned would be disqualified, after substantial judicial time has been devoted to the matter, because of the appearance or discovery, after the matter was assigned to him or her, that he or she individually or as a fiduciary, or his or her spouse or minor child residing in his or her household, has a financial interest in a party (other than an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome), disqualification is not required if the justice, judge, magistrate judge, bankruptcy judge, spouse or minor child, as the case may be, divests himself or herself of the interest that provides the grounds for the disqualification.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 646, 62 Stat. 908 ; Pub. L. 93–512, §1, Dec. 5, 1974, 88 Stat. 1609 ; Pub. L. 95–598, title II, §214(a), (b), Nov. 6, 1978, 92 Stat. 2661 ; Pub. L. 100–702, title X, §1007, Nov. 19, 1988, 102 Stat. 4667 ; Pub. L. 101–650, title III, §321, Dec. 1, 1990, 104 Stat. 5117 .)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §24 (Mar. 3, 1911, ch. 231, §20, 36 Stat. 1090 ).

Section 24 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., applied only to district judges. The revised section is made applicable to all justices and judges of the United States.

The phrase “in which he has a substantial interest” was substituted for “concerned in interest in any suit.”

The provision of section 24 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., as to giving notice of disqualification to the “senior circuit judge,” and words “and thereupon such proceedings shall be had as are provided in sections 17 and 18 of this title,” were omitted as unnecessary and covered by section 291 et seq. of this title relating to designation and assignment of judges. Such provision is not made by statute in case of disqualification or incapacity, for other cause. See sections 140, 143, and 144 of this title. If a judge or clerk of court is remiss in failing to notify the chief judge of the district or circuit, the judicial council of the circuit has ample power under section 332 of this title to apply a remedy.

Relationship to a party’s attorney is included in the revised section as a basis of disqualification in conformity with the views of judges cognizant of the grave possibility of undesirable consequences resulting from a less inclusive rule.

Changes were made in phraseology.
1988-Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 100–702 added subsec. (f).

1978-Pub. L. 95–598 struck out references to referees in bankruptcy in section catchline and in subsecs. (a) and (e).

1974-Pub. L. 93–512 substituted “Disqualification of justice, judge, magistrate, or referee in bankruptcy” for “Interest of justice or judge” in section catchline, reorganized structure of provisions, and expanded applicability to include magistrates and referees in bankruptcy and grounds for which disqualification may be based, and inserted provisions relating to waiver of disqualification.

Change of Name

Words “magistrate judge” substituted for “magistrate” in section catchline and wherever appearing in subsecs. (a), (e), and (f) pursuant to section 321 of Pub. L. 101–650, set out as a note under section 631 of this title.

Effective Date of 1978 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 95–598 effective Oct. 1, 1979, see section 402(c) of Pub. L. 95–598, set out as an Effective Date note preceding section 101 of Title 11, Bankruptcy. For procedures relating to Bankruptcy matters during transition period see note preceding section 151 of this title.

Effective Date of 1974 Amendment

Pub. L. 93–512, §3, Dec. 5, 1974, 88 Stat. 1610 , provided that: “This Act [amending this section] shall not apply to the trial of any proceeding commenced prior to the date of this Act [Dec. 5, 1974], nor to appellate review of any proceeding which was fully submitted to the reviewing court prior to the date of this Act.”

One Response to “Amy Coney Barrett: Will she follow the law of recusal?”

  1. […] Amy Coney Barrett: Will she follow the law of recusal? – October 15 […]

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