Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Opinion Roundup; Politics and Government the Era of Celebrity Justices Must End

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Opinion Roundup; Politics and Government the Era of Celebrity Justices Must End

Article excerpt

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was correct to express her regrets regarding comments of Donald Trump.

Ginsburg's criticisms were inappropriate for a justice who might be considering court cases involving Trump.

There would be every reason in the world to recuse herself from any cases involving Trump. As the saying goes, you can't unring the bell.

In three separate interviews, Ginsburg called Trump "a faker" and that he ought to release his tax returns. True or not, Ginsburg admitted her comments were "ill-advised."

But there are other aspects to her churlish comments that are just as important.

The justices exempt themselves from the same ethical standards that apply to other federal judges. Of course, this contributes to the public's distrust in that another group in Washington that places themselves above the rest of us.

The code of conduct for federal judges states they may not publicly endorse or oppose candidates for public office.

Making comments outside the court have become commonplace. Clarence Thomas, famous for rarely speaking in open court, has appeared before conservative groups. Antonin Scalia was often making controversial statements. Justices appear publicly to promote their books.

A Rasmussen poll of likely voters showed that two-thirds say justices should not make comments about political candidates.

Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law professor, has said that we're in the era of the "celebrity justice."

As Turley wrote on his blog, justices have ruled in cases where they have clear financial interests. They speak on matters before the court. They have appeared at political fundraisers.

All of this is inappropriate.

"If you want to be a celebrity, other professional opportunities can be easily pursued," Turley wrote.

In an era of toxic partisanship in Congress, the Supreme Court is being asked to resolve disputes.

So it's even more important that the justices be above reproach.

The last straw is the fact that the justices don't allow cameras in the court, supposedly due to concerns about collegiality, concerns that fly out the window as the justices talk for the cameras elsewhere.

ANOTHER CLINTON OUTRAGE

Little noticed in all the hubbub over Hillary Clinton's private email server is a law that Washington often doesn't take seriously - the Freedom of Information Act.

State Department officials charged with producing these requests didn't know of Clinton's private email account, according to depositions taken in a lawsuit, reported in The Washington Post.

The State Department said its staffers couldn't locate Clinton's emails on its official server.

So while Clinton ostensibly wanted to keep her private emails separate, her risky email server also prevented the public from accessing records. …

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