Ethics Proposition: Justice Barrett Should Immediately Recuse Herself From Any Future SCOTUS Decisions Relating to the 2020 Presidential Election

Barrett Trump

I will stipulate that the newest Supreme Court Justice does not have to recuse, and that even the judicial ethics rules applying to other Federal judges (no judicial ethics rules are controlling for Supreme Court justices) would not require recusal in Justice Barrett’s circumstances.

I will also concede that the arguments that she should not recuse are significant and important:

1. Were she to recuse, it would be interpreted by many as an acknowledgment that her Senate critics and others were correct to suspect that she was nominated to assist the President if necessary in any Supreme Court challenges to the election results.

2. Her recusal would suggest a precedent holding that a Justice being nominated by a President creates a rebuttable presumption that such a Justice has a conflict of interest that would interfere with the Justice’s ability to exercise independent and objective judgment in any case directly affecting that President’s interests.

3. Her recusal would leave the Court with a potential 4-4 split on a case that would have major impact on the nation.

4. Democratic officials’ demands that she recuse herself are driven purely by partisanship, and are hypocritical. Justice Kagan, appointed by President Obama, did not recuse herself in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, for example.

All this is true,

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Ethics Dunces: Girl Scouts USA

Girl Scouts

I covered this episode briefly yesterday (Item , but upon reflection, it deserves more derision. The decision to pull the simple tweet saluting all of the women who have served on the Supreme Court because of indefensible tweets like these cited yesterday…

Asshole tweets

and others, like this…

Brown screenshot

…was bad enough: craven, submissive, and irresponsible. The organization’s explanation afterwards, when it had begun getting the much-deserved criticism for backing down in the face of the Woke Mob, compounded its disgrace. First it tweeted meekly,

Girl Scouts Grovel

..and when that abject grovel was not well-received, a Girl Scouts USA spokesperson so mealy-mouthed that—well it’s too early, and I can’t think of a witty metaphor—gave us this:

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Sunday Ethics Cheer-Up, 10/25/2020: A Gaffe, A Cake, A Charge, And A Check

Well, I’m trying to cheer up, anyway. It’s raining, I’m behind in several projects, including several posts, I’ve been exhausted without good cause this weekend, and I’m depressed. I even broke out my anti-depression play list (21 pieces in all), with artists noted:

  • “One Fine Day” by the Chiffons
  • “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” by Spike Jones and His City Slickers, Doodles Weaver, soloist.
  • “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody” and “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall)
  • “Only You” by the Platters
  • “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
  • The First Act Finale of “Iolanthe” and the Overture to “The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan
  • “I’m a Fool,” by Elvis.
  • “Neverland,” sung by Mary Martin.
  • “The Star Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston
  • “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “When I Saw Her Standing There” by the Beatles.
  • “Where the Boys Are” by Connie Francis
  • “La Mer”by Charles Trenet
  • “The Carousel Waltz” by Richard Rodgers.
  • “Runaround Sue” by Dion
  • “Tessie” by the Dropkick Murphys
  • “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash.
  • “A Christmas Festival” by the Boston Pops

If that group doesn’t restore my spirits, it’s time to head for the bridge.

1. I know Ethics Alarms has assigned Joe Biden’s now routine gaffes and misstatements to the Julie Principle category, but you have to admit, “We have the most extensive voter fraud organization in history” is special.

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Note To Senate Democrats: Tantrums Are Not Civil, Responsible, Professional Or Statesmanlike

child-temper-tantrum

I suppose this is a futile reminder, since the Democratic party, prodded by the infantile “resistance” that the party  lacked the courage and integrity to tell to shut up and shape up, has been engaged in one tantrum after another since it lost the Presidential election in 2016. In their determination to bake hate, anger and uncontrolled emotion into our once honorable political process, the Democrats have divided the nation, wrecked communities, and quite possibly damaged our democracy beyond repair. It has been opposition by tantrum, from the increasingly personal attacks on the President of the United States, to the contrived Mueller investigation, to the disgraceful impeachment sham. Of course the Democrats’ African American and extremist base would take the cue and expand the tactic into the streets, throwing a series of violent fits over isolated and ambiguous incidents that could be falsely characterized as typical, racist, and criminal.

Today, the metaphorical holding of breath and stamping of feet continued. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced they will boycott Thursday’s markup of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, in protest of Republicans’ decision to move forward with President Donald Trump’s high court pick so close to Election Day. In this they are depending upon the public’s ignorance and amnesia, supported, as usual, by news media spin. What the Republican are doing with the Barrett nomination is exactly what Democrats insisted was the proper process four years ago. It is exactly what Democrats would do if the parties’ circumstances were reversed. It is constitutional and it is legal. Moreover, the nominee, Judge Barrett, acquitted herself with brio under Democratic questioning.

This is not a “we must protest an outrage and injustice” boycott. It’s an “Ooooo, we are just so darn mad that we can’t have our way!” boycott.

How petty and foolish.

The official statement just compounds the disgrace.

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High Noon Ethics Shoot-Out, 10/21/2020: Religious Bigotry Vs Anti-Gay Bigotry! “Whitewashing” Vs Anti-Semitism! Google Vs Trust!

As you may (and should) know, the classic Western “High Noon” was and is regarded by some conservatives as anti-American. I think it is, as excellent as it is. The ending, where the heroic law man (played by Gary Cooper in an Academy Award-winning performance) throws his star in the dirt in disgust (imitated by “Dirty Harry” for very different reasons in that conservative film years later), is widely seen as a rejection of American society as hypocritical. (The fact that the screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was a Communist doesn’t help.)

My favorite scene in the movie, where Cooper begs the church congregation to help, plays like a “Twilight Zone” episode, with the whole town rationalizing furiously to avoid helping the desperate law man minutes away from having to face, alone, vengeful thugs determined to kill him. (The whole scene is not on YouTube; I searched.) “Rio Bravo,” one of the best John Wayne Westerns and a personal favorite, was devised by director Howard Hawks as a direct rebuke of the selfish and craven America “High Noon” posits. In the Duke’s movie, the lawman, Wayne, constantly rejects the offers of help he receives, though he knows hired killers are massing to free his prisoner. Yet people go out of their way, at great personal risk, to help him anyway, time after time. “High Noon” is a better movie (maybe), but “Rio Bravo” is a fairer depiction of American values and history.

1. This is why I tell lawyers and government employees that it’s unethical to use Google for professional communication and client matters. Mac programmer Jeff Johnson has discovered that if you set Google Chrome to eliminate all website cookies and site data when you close the browser, the data remains un-erased for YouTube and Google itself.

What a coinkydink!

“Perhaps this is just a Google Chrome bug, not intentional behavior, but the question is why it only affects Google sites, not non-Google sites,” Johnson says. “I’ve tested using the latest Google Chrome version 86.0.4240.75 for macOS, but this behavior was also happening in the previous version of Chrome. I don’t know when it started.”

Bottom line: Don’t trust Google. Like I’ve been saying….

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Morning Ethics Wake-Up, 10/20/2020: Being Kind To Jeffrey And Other Matters

happy wake-up

1. Time to leave Jeffrey Toobin alone in his misery. I assume this will be an awful day in an awful week for poor Jeff Toobin, now that the full story of his Zoom debacle is out and being commented upon in the social media.  I would like to make an appeal for the mirth and ridicule to be cut short and minimized. It isn’t a case of “he’s suffered enough.” It’s a case of “he’s going to suffer as much as its possible for a human being to suffer without being convicted of a crime and thrown in jail even if nobody says another thing about him in public.” This hasn’t happened before to a public figure: the closest was Anthony Weiner’s sexting women, and as humiliating as that was, it doesn’t come close to what Toobin’s Zoom botch has done to the legal analyst’s career, reputation and dignity.

I hope his family is standing by him; I hope he has a group of loyal and compassionate friends who will care for him now; I hope the popular culture shows that it is capable of compassion, though my optimism on the latter point is far from high. I fear for his life. I was trying to imagine something as emotionally devastating as Toobin’s level of personal and professional humiliation, and my mind kept flipping to the end of  the ugly thriller “Seven,” when police detective Brad Pitt murders serial killer Kevin Spacey after having a package delivered to him containing Pitt’s young wife’s severed head. Pitt’s character, who is presumably on his way to a long stay in a padded room, is actually better off than Toobin: at least he is completely blameless.

It’s not a good analogy, but it’s all I can think of.

Ethics Alarms will not be mentioning the Toobin-Zoom affair again. But before we never speak of this again, let me mention that in Ann Althouse’s blog post on the topic yesterday she wrote (in addition to “This may be the stupidest thing I have seen in 17 years of blogging”), “Who believes he thought he was off camera? Even if he thought he had “muted the Zoom video,” how could he not make absolutely sure before bringing his penis out…?”

I don’t know what goes through Ann’s mind sometimes. Did she think Toobin would deliberately torpedo his life? Of course he thought he was off camera!

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Was Today’s Women’s March In D.C. The Dumbest Protest Yet?

ProtestMarch

To be fair, it’s impossible to say. Almost all protests and demonstrations, even the ones that do not deteriorate into “mostly peaceful” riots, are silly, juvenile tantrums that cost money, waste time, inconvenience saner citizens and accomplish less than nothing. You can review the Ethics Alarms Protest Check-List: today’s mass scream by hysterical progressive women protesting the vote that hasn’t been cast in a case that doesn’t exist which would undo a SCOTUS decision that is  unlikely to be undone flunks on almost all points. Marcher Cherie Craft, a D.C. community organizer, told the Washington Post, “People think, you know, is this really making a difference?” Will it cause Judge Barrett not to be confirmed? Will it change the result of that so far imaginary abortion case that threatens Roe v. Wade? Will it make those who find abortion to be an ethical and moral abomination suddenly support abortion on demand?  No, no, and no. Might it cause some extra Wuhan virus cases that marchers will carry back to their states? Well, look at that photo above. I guess that’s something.

The hypocrisy of such an event while the mainstream media is attacking the President for so-called “super-spreader” events is palpable, and one of many reasons that there will be no effective shutdowns going forward. The pandemic hysterics, fascists and Democratic mayors—but I repeat myself– have no credibility. D.C. Muriel Bowser is being sued for banning outside church services, and yet allows this sardine-fest to go forward with her blessings.

Go ahead, rationalize that. Anyone. I dare you.

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Wednesday Ethics Wind-Down / Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/14-15/2020: The Unmasking Of News Media And Social Media Bias Continues…[UPDATED!]

phantom-of-the-opera

1. Notes from The Great Stupid. Here is a passage from a New York Times book review of “The Tragedy of Heterosexuality”:

In examining the pressure to partner with the opposite gender we find the extortions of capitalism, the misogyny of violence against women, the racist and xenophobic erasure of nonwhite families, and the homophobic hatreds that pervade so much of everyday life.”

Well, that and the biological imperative to continue the species. This brilliance is the work of Haley Mlotek,  a senior editor for SSENSE. Imagine: this is the quality of thought among our intellectual class.

No wonder the political class is so idiotic.

2. So this is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, is it? Nikole  Hannah-Jones, faced with a careful and accurate fisking of her fraudulent “1619 project” by Times columnist Bret Stephens (covered by Ethics Alarms here) did not try to rebut him, or make a civil, reasoned argument. She did what her entire generation of prominent African Americans have been conditioned to do, because it works so well. She accused Stephens and the Times of racism, with a dash of sexism for flavor. Hannah-Jones tweeted,

“In 1894, the NYT called Ida B. Wells a ‘slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress’ for daring to tell the truth about lynching. 100 years later she earned the Pulitzer Prize. These efforts to discredit my work simply put me in a long tradition of [black women] who failed to know their places.”

(It is satisfying to watch the Washington Post pounce on the Times over this fiasco. The rivalry between the papers is one of the few factors that ever pushed one of them into practicing actual journalism these days.)

As for Nikole Hannah-Jones, she is a child. Her tantrum was irresponsible and an embarrassment to the Times, and she should, by rights, be fired. She won’t be, because of black privilege, now enhanced in the wake of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. The embarrassment for the Times, however, will linger. This woman was given leave by the paper to create and promote a false historical narrative that was not designed to enlighten but to further a political agenda. In truth, the Times deserves the embarrassment even more than Hannah-Jones deserves to be fired.

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Shocked—SHOCKED!— That Feminists Are Being Hypocritical In Their Criticism Of Amy Coney Barrett

The Evil HR Lady flagged the latest example of flagrant hypocrisy from progressive women in this politics drenched year, the worst being the sudden disappearance of any concern about sexual harassment with President trump being opposed by a serial practitioner even if you don’t believe the former staffer who has “credibly” accused him of finger-rape. You will recall similar criticism launched at Sarah Palin.

Here’s feminist writer Vanessa Grigoriadis:

I guess one of the things I don’t understand about Amy Comey Barrett is how a potential Supreme Court justice can also be a loving, present mom to seven kids? Is this like the Kardashians stuffing nannies in the closet and pretending they’ve drawn their own baths for their kids…And if there aren’t enough hours in the day for her to work and mother those kids, when she portrays herself as a home-centered Catholic who puts family over career, isn’t she telling a lie?

Fellow feminist and progressive writer Meaghan Daum replies on Twitter

I wonder this, too. It may be sexist to ask the question, but childcare arrangements are usually inherently sexist. Is Barrett’s husband the primary caregiver? He’s a partner in a law firm. Are the older kids raising the younger kids, one of whom has special needs?…The problem is, it’s a setup. Because if people start asking about that, she and/or her supporters will say “would you ask this of a man, even a man whose wife has a big career outside the home?” Well, probably not. But just because it’s unfair doesn’t mean it’s not worth asking.

They get away with this convenient bigotry because they are women and their target is a conservative. No male could make such criticisms, and if any conservative dared to question Democrat-nominated female judge with such observations, the long knives would be out and sharpened.

Rachel Malehorn on the always excellent human resources blog is having none of it, writing,

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Monday Ethics Lockdown, 9/28/2020: Wait, CNN Reporters Are Challenging Democrats Now?

I locked it down so securely that it took until Tuesday to open it…

1. Does the Democratic Party’s 2020 ticket constitute the most irresponsible nominations for President and Vice-President in U.S. history? I think a strong case can be made that it is. The patriotic duty of a political party is to give the American people the best possible choices of competent and trustworthy leaders to cast their votes for. In 2020, the nominee for President is mentally declining into incompetence, and the nominee for Vice-President appears to have no genuine objectives other than her own voracious ambition, and will say anything to achieve that. Recent evidence:

  • It was missed at the time, and the 77-year-old Biden had more marbles left then, but during a town hall event last October before the South Carolina Democratic primary, video shows Biden claiming, “I got started out of a HBCU, Delaware State,” he told pupils at Wilson High School in Florence, founded in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Bureau for black children seeking an education. Delaware State is a traditional black college. Yesterday, Delaware State University confirmed  that Joe Biden was never a student there.

Did Joe really misremember where he went to college? Does he think he’s black? Was he lying? Who knows?

  • Kamala Harris appeared at the virtual NAACP convention last week, and, CNN commentator Angela Rye asked Harris who was the best rapper alive. “Tupac!” she answered.

Tupac Shakur has been dead since 1996. Harris, as is her habit, tried to giggle the gaffe away, and then was given another chance. “There’s so many, you know?” she huminahumina-ed. “There’s some I would not mention right now because they should stay in their lane.”

Sure. You know, I have never listened to a rap station or to a single rap song all the way through,  and I can name at least six. Heck, just add almost any adjective to “Ice” and you’ll probably name one by accident. And I’m not even sort-of black.

It’s not that Harris is faking it all the time, it’s that she’s not smart enough to do a convincing job faking it.

2. Wait, another CNN reporter refuses to let a Democrat get away with spouting nonsense? Continue reading