Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Activist Judges

In a previous post, Corporate Takeover, I noted a study on the increasingly pro-business rulings of the Supreme Court.  In this light it is disturbing, if not surprising that, as ThinkProgress reports, last night Justice Samuel Alito attended a major fundraising event for the notorious right wing magazine American Spectator.  (Notorious for smearing President Clinton with false stories as part of the "Arkansas Project," an effort to get Clinton impeached). ThinkProgress notes that Spectator's publisher "helps lead a secretive group of conservatives called the 'Conservative Action Project,'" which helps "lobby for conservative legislative priorities, elect Republicans and block President Obama’s judicial appointments."  Alito was also the headliner at its annual gala in 2008, and has been involved in other fundraising events for conservative groups.  And, as ThinkProgress has previously reported, "Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas have also attended secret political fundraisers."  Does this cross an ethical line?  The Code of Conduct for United States Judges explicitly states that "a judge should not personally participate in fund-raising activities, solicit funds for any organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for that purpose."  It sure appears that these Supreme Court Justices would have violated the Code but for the fact that the Justices have exempted themselves from the ethical rules governing other federal judges.  Nevertheless, their participation in activities supporting these conservative groups calls into serious question their impartiality as well as their ethics.

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