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.