Recuse me, Jeff

Granted that current Attorney General Jeff Sessions is one of the few judicial nominees in American history to be denied the position because of his racist past. [1]   He was nominated by Reagan and his nomination was voted down by a Republican-controlled Senate committee.   Can you imagine how racist you have to be in America to be denied a federal judgeship because of your racism?   It actually boggles the mind.

Still, Sessions behaved properly as Attorney General when he recused himself from an investigation into something he’d already denied his involvement in, and then had to amend his answer about, because of the clear appearance of impropriety.  That is the standard for recusal: an appearance of impropriety.    

It is a standard Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and their ilk routinely ignored while ruling on important partisan cases they or their families were intimately connected with (such as the 5-4 decision in the 2000 election case Bush v. Gore that stopped the recount in the close and disputed Florida presidential election).  Though the appearance of impropriety was strong, the involvement of Thomas’s wife and at least one of Scalia’s sons in the Bush campaign, they simply ignored the standard for recusal in order to cast deciding partisan votes.

When Scalia was asked why he hadn’t recused himself from a case involving Dick Cheney and the disastrous deregulation of energy on the west coast, even though he and Cheney had recently gone on a hunting trip together, Scalia answered: “I think it’s a sad day in America when Americans question the integrity of the Supreme Court.”    

The reporter was overmatched, she couldn’t manage to stammer, “I agree with you, Justice Scalia, it is a sad day.  But that is also not an answer to my simple question.  Given the appearance of impropriety raised by your personal relationship with VP Cheney, who recently took you hunting on Airforce Two, how do you justify not recusing yourself from the case involving Mr. Cheney?”   Scalia was slick, and not only that, had perfect SAT scores and never got less than an A in any course he ever took.   He didn’t even bother to refer to the highly applicable riddle “why does a dog lick his balls?”

Sessions behaving with integrity in recusing himself has apparently long infuriated his boss, the temper-tantrum prone man with the troubled psyche at whose pleasure Sessions serves.  On Fox yesterday, Sessions’s boss said this:

President Donald Trump: “Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done, or he should have told me. Even my enemies say that ‘Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself, and then you wouldn’t have put him in.’ He took the job, and then he said, ’I’m going to recuse myself.’ I said, ‘What kind of man is this?’”

What kind of man?   A man who, in this instance, at least, is showing respect for the law and for the integrity of his office.  

The lackeys are already lining up behind their president, like the loyal servants of his will they are.   Can you listen to someone like Lindsey Graham without vomiting in your mouth a little?

All I can say is I agree with Scalia on this one.  It is a sad day in America.

 

[1] In the end, the Republican-controlled committee voted 10 to 8 to block Sessions’s nomination, with two Republicans joining Democrats to stop it from going forward to a full vote in the Senate. At the time, CNN calculated, Sessions was only the second nominee in 50 years to be denied by the Senate for a federal judgeship.

source

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