Judge Ho Strikes Again! Is His Yale Law School Ban Unfair Discrimination Or Justly Utilitarian?

I could have easily made Judge James Ho of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals an Ethics Hero for the second time in 2022, and maybe I should. (The first time was in February, when he tossed his planned speech at Georgetown University Law Center to chastise the school for its treatment of Professor Illya Shapiro, who dared to utter an opinion that was insufficiently supportive of “diversity” as greater value to the Supreme Court than actual legal acumen. This time his principled stand has more metaphorical teeth, but we should at least consider its ethical validity.

In Judge Ho’s keynote address to the Kentucky Chapters Conference of the Federalist Society—you know, the fascists—- the judge deplored speakers being shouted down and censored at law schools across the country. Then, after singling out Yale Law School as being particularly hostile to non-compliant viewpoints and determined to engage in ideological indoctrination rather than legal education, he announced that he would no longer be hiring law clerks with Yale Law degrees, saying, “Starting today, I will no longer hire law clerks from Yale Law School. And I hope that other judges will join me as well. I certainly reserve the right to add other schools in the future. But my sincere hope is that I won’t have to.” Continue reading

Clarence Thomas Gets A Rare “Double Dunce,” Ethical And Political

I really don’t comprehend how this can happen with someone like Justice Clarence Thomas. Donald Trump, sure. But Thomas is smarter than this.

Between 2003 and 2007, Ginni Thomas, the Justice’s controversial wife and a hard-Right activist, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation’s IRS records. Yet Justice Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years. He checked a box labeled “none” where “spousal non-investment income” is supposed to be disclosed.

Federal judges are bound by law to disclose the source of spousal income, meaning that if the information found by Common Cause is accurate, Thomas did not comply with the law. SCOTUS justices are supposed to obey the law, even more than everybody else, in some respects. Legal ethics expert Steven Lubet (I used his legal ethics textbook when I taught the subject at American University!) says that a failure to disclose spousal income by a federal judge “is not a crime of any sort, but there is a potential civil penalty” for it. “I am not aware of a single case of a judge being penalized simply for this,” the professor says.

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This Is Comforting: “The Great Stupid” Is Greater And Stupider In Canada, As You Can See…

But for how long?

That’s a male, Oakville High School (about 20 miles from Toronto) “transitioning” shop teacher, parading with his, or her—it really doesn’t matter— gigantic prosthetic boobs. The Halton District School Board defends “her” completely voluntary appearance and attire in the name of “gender rights.” Meanwhile some students have skipped class, some are protesting, and parents are objecting.

My heavens, what could they be upset about?

“This teacher is an extremely effective teacher,” the board’s chair told the media. (Other than creating a completely unnecessary distraction by choosing to wear fake breasts twice the size of his head, of course—picky, picky...)The school board is creating a “safety plan” to ensure this serious professional can continue teaching without incident.

Yes, this Canadian variant of The Great Stupid virus could spread over the border. Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: Davisville (RI) Middle School 7th Graders

This story is simultaneously inspiring and horrifying.

A sixth-grade class in the Davisville Middle School in the North Kingstown School District in Rhode Island was being subjected to a teacher (so far, unnamed) who was cruel to the boys and sexually harassed the girls, leering at them, giving them pet names, and asking them to dance. The teacher was also a coach, and reportedly told the class that he had received complaints from parents in the past without any consequences. The continuing flirting and sexual innuendos made the girls in the class uncomfortable, so the next year, as seventh graders, some of the boys reported the teacher’s conduct to their parents and adminsitrator at the school. All the adults shrugged the complaints off, the boys say. Continue reading

If The Public Cannot Trust Accountants To Be Ethical, Who Can They Trust? Answer: Nobody

Let’s begin with a confession and an apology. On June 28, the SEC announced that it had charged Ernst & Young LLP with extensive cheating by its employees on exams required to obtain and maintain Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licenses. Moreover the Big Five firm withheld evidence of this misconduct from the Security and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division during the SEC’s investigation. EY admitted the facts leading to the SEC’s charges and agreed to pay a $100 million penalty. [You can read the SEC’s press release here.]

I have no idea how I missed such a major and troubling ethics story. It’s my job to keep up on such matters; I teach accounting ethics, though I haven’t had a training assignment for that profession since the pandemic hit. I apologize profusely. I will work to do better. While the various breaches of government, journalism, legal and business ethics that occupy most of my attention on Ethics Alarms are important, none are more ominous than this story. It really feels like the canary dying in the mine.

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Ethics News Flash: There Is Admirable Ethics News From New York!

New York is the East Coast dead ethics twin of California, one of the most damaging ethics corrupters among the states, and a constant anchor on any efforts to keep the culture from rotting. With one unethical mayor elected in New York City after another, the depressing Andrew Cuomo to Kathy Hochul hand-off in the State House, the corrupt and irresponsible state legislature, two habitually unethical U.S. Senators and the state’s determination to defy U.S. immigration law and the U.S. Constitution (I don’t have time to get into the rest, like the New York Times, Broadway and the Yankees), the entire Empire State has become on ongoing bad ethics pageant. Thus it is a shock, a relief, and a glimmer of hope that the it finally has generated a significant positive ethics development that should prompt the rest of the country to follow its lead.

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An Abject Grovel That Explains So Much

Ethics Alarms has frequently discussed the ethical and professional deterioration of the historian profession, as it, like so many other professions and institutions, has given up integrity for ideology and political agendas. History itself is under attack as a result, with historical censorship and airbrushing increasingly being favored over objective and balanced examination that does not distort past figures and events by the viewing them through the lens of “presentism.”

In an essay on the website of the American Historical Association, the organization’s president, James Sweet, offered constructive criticism of the trend, writing in part,

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Ethics Dunce (And Partisan Hack): Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Goldman

Daniel Goldman earns the Ethics Alarms clip with Sir Thomas More’s scalding indictment of the character of “A Man For All Seasons” villain Richard Rich, “Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. . . but for Wales?”

Donald Trump, fighting a coordinated (I believe) Democratic assault from all sides in a desperate effort to neutralize him (an effort than has continued unsuccessfully for a ludicrous six years!) invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination at a deposition for New York Attorney General Letitia James (D). While the ongoing January 6 kangaroo court in the House seeks to prove that Trump planned an “insurrection,” and the Justice Department raided his home ostensibly to find sufficient evidence to prosecute him for mishandling of classified documents, James is continuing her state’s long-running attempts to prove Trump engaged in illegal financial activity and/or corrupt business practices

After Trump’s non-response was reported, Goldman, who was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York for 10 years, tweeted,

“The Fifth Amendment ensures that people are not forced to incriminate themselves. But you don’t take the Fifth if you didn’t do anything wrong.”

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Minnesota’s Religious Freedom Pharmacist Case

In  2019, Andrea Anderson’s primary birth control method had failed, so she called her health care provider to ask for a prescription to Ella, an emergency contraceptive tablet. But when she went to  the local McGregor Thrifty White pharmacy in Aitkin County, Minnesota, pharmacist and local pastor George Badeaux refused to fill the prescription, citing his religious beliefs. He told her that a pharmacist working the following day could fill her needs if a snowstorm didn’t prevent the pharmacist from getting to work.The desperate woman ended up driving three hours round trip to Brainerd during a snowstorm to get her pregnancy-terminating pills.

Anderson sued under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, alleging sexual discrimination. The jury ruled against her.

Ethics Alarms verdict: the jury was right on the law, but the pharmacist was unethical. Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unethical Lawyer…

And yet he’s running to be elected judge!

No, I don’t understand this at all.

Matthew Leveridge, the commonwealth’s attorney for Russell and Wayne counties in Kentucky, should have been disbarred.  He admitted to impregnating a criminal defendant, Latisha Sartain, whom he prosecuted for drug trafficking in 2011. A motion filed on Sartain’s behalf in 2014 alleged that Leveridge filed a motion to revoke her five-year pretrial diversion agreement after she ended their relationship and revealed her pregnancy to Leveridge’s wife. For some reason, this didn’t result in any bar discipline, or an episode of “Law and Order.”  But wait! There’s more! Continue reading