Ooooh, scary! Politico reported that Justice Brett Kavanaugh attended a private holiday party last week at the home of Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC). Attendees included Stephen Miller, whose group America First Legal Foundation, it reported, “has interests in cases now pending before the court.”
Bloomberg Law seems to think social engagements over the holidays aree suspicious actions triggering “the appearance of impropriety” prohibitions all judges are told to avoid. They are not. The problem is that now there is a glut of committed ideologues determined to intimidate, neutralize and delegitimatize the Supreme Court, and to those biased critics, virtually anything a conservative justice does appears improper. In Kavanaugh’s case, unsubstantiated juvenile conduct while in high school was cited as sufficiently improper to overshadow his impeccable record as an adult judge.
Attending a party with people who “live, eat, and breathe conservative political action” is either reflective of a level of insensitivity to that development or indifference to it, says Charles Geyh, an Indiana University Maurer School of law professor. “This is the worst possible time for this,” he said. “That development” is the Court being unjustly and disingenuously attacked for legitimate and legally justifiable decisions that the Left hates. The prohibition against “the appearance of impropriety” means conduct that could be reasonably and objectively seen as improper, not conduct that partisan fanatics find convenient to call improper. Professionals like lawyers, politicians and judges should be capable of interacting socially with those they may disagree with, and there should be no adverse inferences from accepting a private party invitation. As the late Justice Scalia insisted, even Supreme Court Justices are entitled to a social life. If the job requires living like a cloistered monk, no one will want the job.
Twitter (aka Elon Musk) suspended the accounts of journalists from CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post and other news sources yesterday, without warning and initially without giving any explanation.
Later last night, Musk tweeted, “Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok.”
This morning, however, there was still confusion over whether all of those suspended had engaged in doxxing.
Rolling Stone has reported that during an evangelical victory celebration in front of the Supreme Court to celebrate the Dobbs decision, Capitol Hill religious leader Peggy Nienaber got herself recorded saying that she has prayed with sitting justices inside the SCOTUS building. “We’re the only people who do that,” Peggy Nienaber boasted. Nienaber is Liberty Counsel’s executive director of DC Ministry, as well as the vice president of Faith & Liberty, whose ministry offices sit directly behind the Supreme Court. Liberty Counsel frequently brings lawsuits before the Supreme Court, and filed an amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
Liberty Counsel’s founder, Mat Staver, strenuously denied that the in-person ministering to justices that Nienaber bragged about exists. “It’s entirely untrue,” Staver tells Rolling Stone. “There is just no way that has happened.”He adds: “She has prayer meetings for them, not with them.” Asked if he had an explanation for Nienaber’s direct comments to the contrary, Staver says, “I don’t.” But the founder of the ministry, who surrendered its operations to Liberty Counsel in 2018, tells Rolling Stone that he hosted prayer sessions with conservative justices in their chambers from the late-1990s through when he left the group in the mid-2010s. Rob Schenck, who launched theministry under the name Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital, described how the organization forged ministry relationships with Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and the late Antonin Scalia, saying he would pray with them inside the high court. Nienaber was Schenk’s close associate in that era, and continued with the ministry after it came under the umbrella of Liberty Counsel.
Next time a New York Democrat complains about an elected government official’s ethics when he or she identifies as Republican, breaking out into uncontrollable laughter would be appropriate.
New New York City Eric Adams, elected as the “anti-de Blasio,” almost immediately proved that he has at least one thing in common with New York’s “Worst Mayor Ever.” Just a few days ago, Ethics Alarms noted that the former mayor had defiantly continued to ask corporate contractors for the city to contribute to a de Blasio slush fund, in a time honored unethical shakedown ploy known as “pay to play,” even though he had been formally warned to cut it out by the city’s ethics board. Now the new improved mayor is also signalling that he isn’t very concerned about ethics, the appearance of impropriety, or conflicts of interest.
Adams appointed as his sole male deputy mayor (the other five are female) Philip Banks III, who comes with some interesting baggage. (That’s Banks aboveon the right, the new mayor is on the left.)
Judge Michelle Odinet of the City Court of Lafayette, Louisiana, resigned last week after being heard on a video using the term “nigger” while watching security footage of a foiled car burglary outside her home. In her letter of resignation to the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Odinet said she was stepping down “after much reflection and prayer, and in order to facilitate healing within the community.”
“My words did not foster the public’s confidence and integrity for the judiciary,” she wrote. Yeah, I would say that that’s accurate. Still, it’s a strange story. In the video, voices off camera inside the judge’s home are heard saying “nigger” repeatedly and laughing as they watch security-camera footage of someone trying to break into a car until the criminal was foiled. Also used: “mom,” which is the judge, who was clearly joining in the hilarity.
The video was originally sent by an unknown source to a local newspaper, and when she was first questioned, Odinet tried to huminhumina out of the mess. She initially said she had no recollection of the conversation shown, and claimed that her “mental state was fragile” because of the attempted burglary. She also used the excuse that she had been “given a sedative at the time of the video.” Then she played the Pazuzu card (“That’s not me talking!”) protesting that “Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives.” Continue reading →
There’s really nothing special about this tweet from a woman named Kathleen Landerkin. I have friends and relatives who might tweet the same sentiments, if they were, you know, vulgar, uncivil clods. They aren’t, fortunately: I don’t consort with vulgar, uncivil clods. However, the tweet above is significant, because Ms. Landerkin is the current Correctional Training Facility (CTF) Deputy Warden at the Department of Corrections in the District of Columbia, and thus assists in overseeing day to day operations, inmate transportation, and case management at the D.C. Jail. The D.C. Jail is where Donald Trump supporting participants in the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol are being kept.
Landerkin has been wildly vocal abut her hatred of al things related to Donald Trump, especially his supporters, and has been tweeting rants and nasty messages about those she creatively calls “deplorables” for years. One of the more provocative comments was this one, from 2018:
Why should anyone care? Well, she has power over the January 6 inmates, and this degree of hostility, which could be fairly called demented, calls into legitimate question her ability to do her job fairly. Or does it? Literally dozens of over-heated tweets were uncovered by an enterprising social media sleuth, so Landerkin took down her account…but not before he reduced them to a video.
The big legal ethics story of the day is a Wall Street Journal report showing that 131 federal judges, appointed by nearly every President from Lyndon Johnson to Donald Trump, have violated federal law by failing to recuse themselves in cases where either they or family members held a financial interest in one of the parties, meaning that the judge’s decision could have resulted in a direct or indirect benefit. This is, of course, a conflict of interest. Even if the judge was as trustworthy as a saint and would never dream of allowing such a conflict to interfere with his or her judgment, allowing these cases to appear before them violates the judicial ethics canon requiring judges to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
The Wall Street Journal report found that the judges failed to recuse themselves from 685 court cases since 2010. About two-thirds of all federal district judges had holdings of individual stocks, about one of every five of these heard at least one case involving those stocks without withdrawing. When these judges participated in such cases, about two-thirds of their rulings on motions favored the party that their or their family’s financial interests would benefit from prevailing.
This is right up there with Robert Ripley’s discovery of “the Lighthouse Man,” a Szechuan eccentric who drilled a hole into his skull so he could carry a lit candle on his head to light the way through dark passages. After all, Ted Lieu (D-Cal) has already proven himself to be unbelievably awful, with a series of unbelievable statements (and I’m sure I’ve missed a lot). In 2018, for example, he told CNN host Brianna Keilar, among other things, “I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech.” Ethics Alarms named him the Incompetent Elected Official of the Month back in 2011, when he was just a humble State Senator. Naturally, by the consistent logic of California voters, this distinction meant he was ready for the big time, and should be sent to Washington. He was, and racked up two more Incompetent Elected Official awards and an Ethics Dunce. Lieu would be a legitimate feature in several Ripley strips: for example, he is not the dumbest member of Congress. Believe it or not!
He’s probably not the most unethical either, despite this news: Lieu contributed $51,046 to his alma mater, Stanford University, shortly before his son was admitted. Not only did he do this while the “Varsity Blues” celebrity college admissions scandal was being roundly condemned, but according to reports, the bribe was came out of Lieu’s campaign funds.
Democrats have only a razor-thin 219-211 advantage in the House of Representatives (with five current vacancies). Although state officials declared Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks the winner in the state’s Second Congressional District after she won her race by just six votes out of nearly 400,000 cast, and though she took the oath of office in Washington in January, Nancy Pelosi set the ball rolling for the House of Representatives to overrule the state and award the seat to Miller-Meeks’ Democratic opponent, Rita Hart.
She has refused to concede the race, claiming that 22 disallowed ballots should have made her the winner if counted. The House has the rarely used power under the Constitution to arbitrate “elections, returns and qualifications of its own members,” and in 1969, Congress passed the Federal Contested Elections Act to set up a clear process governing how it should hear and decide such cases. So now Democrats have initiated an investigation by the House Administration Committee, a full-scale review into the election that could lead to impounding ballots, a hand recount and ultimately a vote by the full House to decide the election.
But…but… I thought members of the House and Senate refusing to accept the state-certified results of the 2020 Presidential election was an attack on democracy itself (although this too is allowed under the Constitution)! Well, that was Republicans, you see, and the complaining candidate was Donald Trump. Come on. Be reasonable. Besides, why would anyone suspect that the review of the Iowa House election would be subject to partisan bias and manipulation?