July 21, 2005

I Can't Stand The Ignorance

Armando at DailyKos is incredibly persistent that Roberts state a clear position on Roe and he blogs as much several times (here and here just on the current first 12 Kos posts). He ignorantly frames the issue like this:
    Here comes the pushback. Roberts does not have to answer questions is the GOP line. Roberts does not have to provide full and frank information they insist.

    This attitude begs the question, what does Judge Roberts need to hide? Why should he be afraid to state clearly and unequivocally his judicial views?

    I tell you what I suspect - he does not want to discuss Roe. And that is unacceptable.
Obviously Armando isn't a lawyer or he'd realize that a judge that has stated his opinion on a case before him or likely to come before him is obligated to then recuse himself when the case does come around. Apparently he didn't read the news when Scalia ran off at the mouth about how the Ninth Circuit Newdow case on the Pledge of Allegiance was a bad ruling; Justice Scalia recused himself from the case, so when it does come up only 8 Justices will be voting on it.

If a Justice nominee made a promise in public or in private to vote for or against a constitutional right to abortion then he or she would be ethically obligated to recusal. It destroys the principle of impartiality. Even if the Justice were able to sidestep recusal without serious questions about ethics and impartiality, the Justice would be tightly bound to stick within the confines of a promise to the Senate committee; the implication would be that the Justice lied if the statement to the Senate didn't sync up with the actual opinion given. It's an ethical nightmare and potentially a legal one if the decided-against party were to try for impeachment articles.

But absent that, it's inappropriate for a Justice to state an opinion on a case likely to come before his or her court. It's right there in the federal canons. Simply phrasing the issue as "hiding something" versus honesty is childish and ignorant, and such people should do more research before expressing opinions about procedural matters. And again, the fact is that Ginsburg and all the other Justices were quite coy about their answers, avoiding statements to the Senate that might ethically require recusal.


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