Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Another Attack on Judge Taylor

USA Today reports that Judicial Watch (remember them?) claims Judge Anna Diggs Taylor had a conflict of interest when she presided over the warrantless wiretapping lawsuit; specifically, her "apparent membership in a local foundation that gave $45,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan in recent grants." The organization is the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan; Judge Taylor is on the the board of trustees. Since its founding in 1984, the Foundation has distributed "more than $163 million to support thousands of charitable activities". According to USA Today, the $45,000 (0.00276% of the total donations) to the Michigan ACLU was used for programs serving gay men and lesbians. Is Judge Taylor involved in deciding where the Community Foundation donates its funds? The article doesn't say. Does the board of trustees review the donations, line by line, so they should be expected to know who all the recipients are? The article doesn't say. Were any of the unknown number of people who have benefited from these programs parties to the lawsuit? The article doesn't say. Did Judge Taylor personally benefit from the donation? Probably not. Is this donation, one of thousands, a clear indication that Judge Taylor had such a close association with the Michigan ACLU that she was predisposed to favor its side in a judicial ruling? Will Judge Taylor personally benefit from her ruling, because of this association with the Michigan ACLU? Oh, please. But Judge Taylor does have this connection with the Michigan ACLU, and even that tenuous connection is (if we are to believe Judicial Watch) a Conflict Of Interest. And it is a Bad Thing for a judge to have a Conflict Of Interest. Unless, of course, the judge is Bush's Supreme Court appointee Samuel Alito, who presided over a case involving the Vanguard Group where he had large amounts of his own money invested. Or Bush's Supreme Court appointee John Roberts, who was presiding over "a terrorism case of significant importance to President Bush" while he was being interviewed by Bush officials for his Supreme Court nomination. Or Bush's Circuit Court nominee Terrence Boyle, who "ruled in multiple cases involving corporations in which he held investments." Or Bush's Circuit Court nominee James H. Payne, who owned stock in corporations involved in lawsuits brought before him." Or Clarence Thomas, whose wife was hard at work at the Heritage Foundation, sifting through resum├ęs from potential Bush appointees while the Supreme Court was hearing Bush v. Gore. Or Antonin Scalia, whose son got a high-ranking job with the Bush Administration hard on the heels of the Bush v. Gore ruling and who socialized with Dick Cheney after the Supreme Court agreed to take up Cheney's "appeal in lawsuits over his handling of the administration's energy task force." Or Bush's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who as a judge in Texas "took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from companies that had business before him and he did not recuse himself from voting on their cases." I guess the concept of "conflict of interest" only applies to people who oppose Bush's will, not to people who do his bidding.

I'm still waiting for a response from Larry Klayman on whether he still stands behind the claims he made on behalf of Notra Trulock in the Wen Ho Lee case.

I have never understood why people take this man seriously. When I find that I agree with him, which happens occasionally, I feel that there must be something wrong with my reasoning.
I think it is only fair to say the following about Judge Boyle regarding alleged conflict of interest violations...

1) the violation frequency was extremely rare -less than a handful of cases in the over ten thousand cases and 22 year history that Boyle has served

2) the mistakes were inadvertent and when caught, admitted and corrected immediately

3) the holdings were minimal, one of the handful of stocks was worth 2.50 (that is 250 pennies).

4) the series of articles were funded by a George Soros funded grant for over $50,000 to dig up dirt on Bush nominees.

Well I guess Soros got the results he paid for...
Wow. George Soros funds a group that does good and uncovers pertinent truths, and "anonymous" thinks that's wrong.

Whereas "anonymous" probably had no problem at all with the lies spewed out by Jerome Corsi (who himself is backed by a whole host of right-wing sugar daddies) against John Kerry. Or the various right-wing sugar daddies such as Rupert Murdoch, Sun Myung Moon, Richard Mellon Scaife, and Conrad Black, that spend billions on non-profitable media empires for the sole reason of gaslighting us with their right-wing propaganda.

But really, I shouldn't be mad at our little anonymous friend. Getting mad at Republican hypocrisy is like getting mad at air. They deserve our pity, not our scorn; they have a heavy burden to shift. To be a Republican and still think of oneself as a moral being requires a dose of cognitive dissonance so large that, in its extreme forms (such as in Pam of Atlas Shrugs), the resulting effects are indistinguishable from clinically-diagnosed insanity.
Wow it seems all Pheonix woman can do is what we call in logic, "attacking the person."

I just felt that more detail was needed to objectively compare the situations. I guess Pheonix lady isn't really interested in arguing the facts she is just interested in name calling.
"Attacking the person"? You mean like your George Soros obsession, the classic mark of a person who gets all their information spoon-fed to them from various politically-correct right-wing sources with more money and influence than Soros could ever hope to have?

Poor thing. The hypocrisy and the cognitive dissonance in your head must really hurt you so. More even than finding out that your hero, Judge Boyle, has far more (and far more genuine) conflict-of-interest problems than does Judge Taylor.
I don't believe I ever offered an opinon on Judge Taylor. And Judge Boyle is not my father is.

Article III should not be overly politicized by either side. But unfortunately it has and will continue to occur (e.g. Ginsburg, Pregerson, Souter, Payne, Thomas and Scailia). Honorable men and women serving both from the left and right should be given a fair chance to set the record straight. I hope that Judge Taylor has the same opportunity.

On George Soros, political advocacy is understandable and actually was supported by the framers, however to write a series of stories attacking one nominee and guising it as legitimate journalism is manipulation. Will Evans has his own ethical code of conduct which states that he should try to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. It is questionable whether he has complied when he recieves a 50K grant to write a series of stories attacking one judicial nominee.

And really Phoenix Lady you shouldn't jump into attack mode because some one offers more depth and a different angle on a particular situation.
Anonymous, trust me on this: anonymous critics are not particularly welcome after some recent unpleasantness.

Why not address the points that PW raised about Taylor?
1. Any connection between Taylor and the ACLU is incredibly tenuous, sort of a six degrees of relationship kind of connection. Taylor has nothing to explain.
2. The connection between Samuel Alito and Vanguard is not tenuous. It involved his own money. The Vanguard case was especially egregious, involving pauperizing a widow. He's a crook.
3. The same principle applies to Judge Boyle. Maybe, as you say, the amount of money is small. So, perhaps you're arguing he's a petty crook. Or, further, you argue it was inadvertent. Well, maybe. Buying stock in a company on a case where you're presiding is pretty flagrant. Boyle is asking for one of the top jobs in the country. If he were applying for a job as a cashier and he had been found by a previous employer to have stolen $5, what do you think the prospective employer would say?
5. Soros's involvement in investigating corruption is irrelevant. What matters is the charge and whether that is accurate. If what Boyle did was wrong, it was wrong.

I think it's the latter point that PW is objecting to. We're tired of attack dog politics, where all that matters to Republicans is who is saying what, not whether it's true of false. I try very hard to listen, but every time someone answers a criticism of a politician with an attack on someone else, the ears close a bit more.
A further point. From the article PW linked:

Kendall, who also reviewed Boyle's records, said there's not enough money involved to conclude that Boyle made any rulings for personal financial gain. All of the stock holdings at issue were valued below the $15,000 mark according to his financial disclosure forms, and many were worth substantially less. But, Kendall said, the violations are especially glaring because he committed them as a circuit court nominee. "You would think he would be particularly careful at that point," Kendall said, "and apparently he has not been."

People who want to be leaders need to be sensitive to how their actions are viewed. 1 Tim. 3 talks about how church leaders need to be above reproach. But the principle applies more broadly. The GOP turned a case of adultery by Bill Clinton into a cause for impeachment by improperly questioning him under oath about a consensual affair. When he lied, as have numerous spouses placed in similar circumstances (including one Newt Gingrich), they tried to turn it into perjury. They continue to falsely claim he was convicted of that. He was not.

Now, my point is not that GOP partisans should be ashamed of their dishonesty, lust for power, and hypocrisy. Of course these people should be ashamed, but they lack any conscience. My point is that having an affair-- something that half of American men admit to-- weakened his leadership.

Why should anyone respect the judiciary when two perjurers, Alito and Thomas, sit on the Supreme Court? Why should anyone respect the court in which Boyle will sit when, as Monroe Freedman said,

"If they're going to let people get by and confirm people who have this kind of background, why should anybody then be surprised when we have a federal bench with judges on it that engage in unethical conduct?" Freedman asked. "He is disregarding the law. I'm appalled that he got past the Judiciary Committee." Freedman added that given Boyle's record, if the Senate votes to confirm him, "they communicate the message that the disqualification statute doesn't matter."
Soros' involvement through funding a shadow organization and Evans' situational ethics are important elements in full disclosure, I believe. Its up to Salon if they want to legitimize it and drive off independent readership.

On Judge Taylor, I believe my point was, and unlike many of you, that I believe she is a decent person and that we have gotten to a situation on both the left and right were good and qualified nominees are not going to consider serving their country.

All judges (and certainly sitting ones) deserve respect and not shameful personal attacks that seek to damage their credibility and honor.
You have addressed none of the points, anonymous. If you're not planning on listening to what I have to say, then I don't see any particular urgency in listening to what you have to say.

Which, frankly, strikes me as a much better example of situational ethics than anything related to Judge Taylor.
I am sorry that you are unable to see the light on this one or understand my clear points.

Anyway, Taylor, Pregerson, Ginsburg and Souter have all had accusations leveled at them with regard to ethics. To get an "ethics expert" -to say that that situations for them are somehow different is a best partisan and at worst laughable.

Truly the women and men who serve this country under Article III deserve better than to become pawns in any partisan game no matter who the players are or what the stakes.
Right: some guy comes onto Mercury Rising, is informed he is not welcome to post anonymously which he ignores and posts anyway, expects people to accept his point of view despite his unwillingness to listen to theirs and his conclusion is that it's the people at Mercury Rising who don't understand what he's saying.

This is why Republicans are about as welcome as a bucket of fire ants.

Go peddle your anonymous baloney elsewhere.
I believe my points are that neither Taylor nor Boyle are unethical because the rules and judical code of ethics are too restrictive:

First of all, here is what the U.S. Supreme Court has said on the subject of the judicial ethics and in particular the canon, in LILJEBERG v. HEALTH SERVICES ACQUISITION CORP., 486 U.S. 847 (1988):

A conclusion that a statutory violation occurred does not, however, end our inquiry. As in other areas of the law, there is surely room for harmless error committed by busy judges who inadvertently overlook a disqualifying circumstance. There need not be a draconian remedy for every violation of 455(a). It would be equally wrong, however, to adopt an absolute prohibition against any relief in cases involving forgetful judges.

1) Harmless, inadvertent errors by forgetful judges should not require draconian treatment.

Secondly, it's important to keep in mind that even the best people have made recusal errors. Such errors have been made by people like circuit judges Kozinski, Batchelder, Manion, Becker, Arnold, Lynch, Selya, and Silberman. Also, people like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Also, people like circuit judges Clay, Daughtrey, Dennis, and Coffey.

2) This is not to excuse errors, but merely to point out that judges are human.
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