Judicial Ethics in the News
Posted by judicialethicsforum on Sunday, March, 27, 2011
Here are two noteworthy items in the world of judicial ethics:
(1) Adding heat to the recent law professors’ letter to Congress calling for ethical regulation of the Supreme Court, Representatives Chris Murphy and Anthony Weiner have introduced a bill named the Supreme Court Transparency and Disclosure Act. In essence, the resulting law would (1) apply the Code of Conduct for United States Judges to the Supreme Court Justices, (2) require Justices to issue reasons for recusing or failing to recuse themselves, and (3) provide a procedure for review whenever Justices deny motions to disqualify. [For some critical commentary, see here, where Brookings asserts that similar reform proposals would transgress Article III, § 1, vesting judicial power in “one Supreme Court.”]
(2) There has been yet another disappointment from one of the most disappointing cases in Wisconsin. After the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Gableman approved a misleading judicial campaign ad, after he then refused to recuse himself in a criminal matter in which his impartiality was questioned, and after the Wisconsin Supreme Court split straight down the conservative-liberal divide both in deciding whether to discipline Gableman and in deciding whether to review his failure to recuse himself (see here for details), we now learn that another Justice (Prosser) called the Chief Justice (Abrahamson) a “total bitch.” He allegedly topped off this statement with a threat: “I will destroy you.” If true, it should be noted that state judges on lower courts are often disciplined for such “intemperate” behavior.