Unethical Quote Of The Month From An Unfit Biden Judicial Nominee [Corrected]

“I said it in my role as an advocate to make a rhetorical point.”

—-ACLU lawyer Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, nominated by President Biden for the federal judiciary, in response to a question by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La) about why she told a Princeton audience that police kill unarmed blacks “every day.”

In the exchange you can see in the video clip above, Choudhury’s excuse for lying outright to a student audience at Princeton is that she did it to “make a rhetorical point.” Oh! That’s all right then!

Sen. Kennedy was quite appropriately aghast, as should any professional, citizen, lawyer or judge should be. The President’s nominee to sit on the bench for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York quite literally is saying that a lawyer can lie in public for a reason she deems appropriate. No, she can’t, not ethically, not if she wants to be trusted, and lawyers, like judges must be trustworthy. Her answer to Kennedy is signature significance for an unprincipled ideologue (her employer, the ACLU, is full of them, but that’s no mitigation) who is unfit to be a judge (and in my view, unfit to be a lawyer.)

I once again state that I am a near absolutist on lawyers lying in public statements (or on public websites or social media). I think doing so should be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, even when the lie doesn’t involve the representation of a client. Lawyers are lawyers all the time, 24-7: this is something that I emphasize in my legal ethics seminars. Any time a lawyer lies in public about anything, he or she harms the profession. But state bars have adamantly refused to discipline lawyers regarding non-client-related statements. Even though Rule 8.4 in every jurisdiction says that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation,” that conduct does not extend to speech not related to the practice of law, and so (conveniently for lawyers like John Edwards and too many elected officials with law licenses to mention) even outright and intentional lies like Choudhury’s do not risk professional sanctions.

Such a lie does, however, provide damning evidence of a corrupt character, however. Almost as disturbing as the lie itself was the dismissive manner in which she excused it. Canon 2A of the Federal Judiciary Code of Ethics states in part, “Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct… This prohibition applies to both professional and personal conduct.”

Lying to Princeton students who trust that a distinguished lawyer will not deceive them or misrepresent facts is disqualifying. So is arguing that doing so is acceptable as “advocacy” and to make a “rhetorical point.” Sen. Kennedy was too kind. She didn’t say something “incorrect”; by her own description, she lied.

If the President had integrity, he would pull her nomination based on that exchange alone. Any Senator with integrity—never mind party affiliation–ought to publicly declare that he or she cannot in good conscience vote to confirm for a judge who believes in lying for any reason.

Ah, but Choudhury would become the first Muslim American woman to serve as a federal judge: she is already the first Muslim American woman to be nominated to the federal judiciary. To this values- and priorities-addled party and its President, blind “diversity, equity and inclusion” matter more than such trivia as character, honesty, and trustworthiness, even in the selection of judges.

Also relevant is that Rudy Giuliani has been suspended from the practice of law because of public statements he made that a New York court found intolerable because of “the damage that can be done when the public is misled by false information about the elections.” The damage that has been done by false representations about police racism and the “murders” of unarmed black men includes getting police officers killed and causing police to avoid pro-active law enforcement, resulting in the deaths of citizens across the country.

7 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month From An Unfit Biden Judicial Nominee [Corrected]

  1. Jack, can you please correct Senator John Kennedy to R-LA.
    She did have gall, trying to brush away his question like that, giving some boilerplate answer about how closely she works with the police. I can imagine Dem senators decrying the personal attacks and racism of Repub questioning. I mean, how can one question a woman of color, date I say more? Enter Cory Booker theatrical line reading and crying.

  2. I wonder what “rhetorical point” she was trying to make by telling a lie. My guess is: “I can tell an outright lie without consequence because of my party affiliation, my religion, my gender, and the genetics that made my skin darker.”

    I guess “mission accomplished”…

  3. It’s simply an artifact of Democrats’ alternative verb conjugation for to lie:
    I was taken out of context.

    We provide moral clarity.

    You lie.

    They amplify misinformation.

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