Friday, July 15

Justice Gonzales--Recusal Problems

M. Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was quoted on the LA Times saying that, "Gonzales may well be required to recuse himself from the three most important cases already on the court's docket for next term." He has been arguing the point on the weblog of the conservative magazine National Review.

According to Federal law, justices are required to recuse themselves from "any proceeding in which [their] impartiality might reasonably be questioned." That includes Gonzales, who "served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, advisor or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy."

The LA Times concludes:
In recent days, Concerned Women for America, another conservative advocacy group, has circulated a memo listing six cases on which it fears Gonzales would have to recuse himself were he named to the Supreme Court.

"It's nothing personal, and we haven't expressed a position on him," said Jan LaRue, the organization's chief counsel, who wrote the memo. "My point has been all along that I don't really expect the president to nominate [Gonzales] because of the issues described in the memo."

The cases listed by LaRue included Gonzales vs. Oregon, a physician-assisted suicide dispute, and Gonzales vs. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, a religious freedom case involving the use in religious ceremonies of a hallucinogenic drug prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act.

She also cited two abortion-related cases: Ayotte vs. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a parental-notification case, and Scheidler vs. NOW, which concerns the application of federal racketeering and extortion laws to punish aggressive antiabortion protesters.

In addition, Gonzales was active in drafting the administration's policy on holding terrorism suspects at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Challenges to those detentions are winding their way through the court system.
Truth of the matter is I am not sure this is of ultimate importance to the question of Gonzales' nomination. Regardless of the candidate, the true questions should be:

1. Does this individual have a proven track record of upholding the constitution according to it's original intent, without expanding its definitions or "creating" new law through judicial interpretation?
2. Is this person professionally experienced and qualified, both as a lawyer, and as a judge?

That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. No race. No gender. And PLEASE!!--No politics!