A 2009 Supreme Court Ruling Is About To Put Amy Coney Barrett In A Major Bind

During her confirmation hearings last week, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett refused to say if she would recuse herself from any potential cases related to the 2020 election, remarking:

“I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity to think I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide this election for the American people”

But, as Jennifer Rubin notes in an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post, that’s simply not good enough, because there would be an overwhelming stench of impropriety if she didn’t recuse herself:

“The issue is not an explicit deal between Barrett and Trump, nor even her pureness of heart. It is the inevitable perception that if the election winds up in the court, her vote would be seen as hopelessly compromised. Voters know she was rushed through. Voters know Trump’s and Republicans’ expectations. How could they possibly not conclude that the rush was in case they needed her to determine the election outcome?”

No matter what Barrett may say or believe at the moment, it turns out there’s a 2009 Supreme Court ruling in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. that would make her recusal mandatory.

According to former federal appeals court judge J. Michael Lutting, the Caperton case could not possibly be clearer when it comes to a judge hearing a case that would benefit the person who appointed them:

“Caperton involved a litigant who spent $3 million to help elect a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justice, who then voted to reverse a $50 million damage award against his benefactor. The U.S. Supreme Court found that the judge should have recused himself. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said that recusal may be constitutionally required even where a judge is not actually biased, if there is a ‘serious risk of actual bias.’”

Where would that leave Barrett? Between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Luttig concludes:

“The question for Barrett, if it arises, will not be whether she personally believes she can be fair in deciding an election case but, rather, whether a reasonable person would conclude that her impartiality would be inescapably overborne by the flood of influences brought to bear on her.”

So if Barrett doesn’t recuse herself from a case involving the election of a man who nominated her to the highest court in the land, it would not only prove that she’s little more than a pawn for Trump, it could even possibly lead to her being impeached. She would then share that dubious honor with Donald Trump himself, and she might even wind up being booted off the Supreme Court, especially if Democrats retake control of the Senate.

Ms. Barrett may think she’s one step from the highest court in the land, but she’d best walk lightly when she gets there or face the consequences of her obstinance.

One thought on “A 2009 Supreme Court Ruling Is About To Put Amy Coney Barrett In A Major Bind

  1. This woman Amy Coney Barrett must not replace RBG’s seat… She proved she has no ounce of respect.. How can she show respect or consideration for a person she is to judge when she could not respect the wishes of an Icon for the people? All she had to do was refuse to be considered until after the elections as requested by RBG (End of Story)

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