Why should Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia recuse himself from abortion rights cases and related cases like McCullen v. Coakley? Because he’s married to an anti-abortion rights campaigner. See her page at the anti-abortion Nurturing Network:
Crisis Pregnancy Counselor
“I have been moved by the courage of so many who in their loneliness struggle to protect the life they nurture within. Serving on the Board of the Nurturing Network is the culmination of my experience in working to protect and defend life.”
That is a big honkin conflict of interest.
The Nurturing Network is a response to the legalization of abortion – there was no such network before Roe v Wade. Its purpose is to persuade women to stay pregnant.
The Nurturing Network is an international charitable organization that responds to the immediate and comprehensive needs of a woman facing the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy. Founded and managed by Mary Cunningham Agee, TNN’s nearly 50,000 volunteer Resource Members provide all of the practical support a woman needs to nurture her child’s life—and make the most of hers as well.
During the past twenty-eight years, 24,000 women and children have been served through this grassroots Network that is active in all fifty states and in thirty foreign countries. Assistance is provided without charge and is available without regard to a person’s race, creed or economic circumstances.
The Nurturing Network’s objective is not a political one but a most practical one: to provide an authentic and life-affirming choice to women whose own support networks have let them down. Each woman served by TNN is empowered to move beyond her economic, emotional and social constraints in order to exercise her choice to have a healthy pregnancy and nurture the life of her child.
Not political at all. Right.
Blanche Quizno says
But he won’t. Scalia’s an ass.
Wow. That sounds like happily-pregnant women are lost in the wilderness, being preyed upon by roving packs of compulsory abortionists.
Whereas the opposite is pretty much the case, with forced-birthers stalking women’s clinics. And a supreme court Justice should not be involved with the kind of people who deny rights of women.
Tommy Capitalist says
Can this really be done?
If say , sotomayor was married to someone who worked for plannede parenthood, would she need to recuse herself as well?
Justice Scalia should recuse himself from any case less than 200 years old.
@ Tommy Capitalist
Supremes can only recuse themselves, nobody else has a say.
It’s not a conflict of interest. It’s not even him stating his personal pre-judgement on an issue. It’s his wife’s political, or “charitable,” activities. That’s not grounds for recusal.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
24k “women and children” in 28 years. That’s like 1000 “women and children” a year. Given that each case is 1 woman and one child, that’s less than 500 cases a year. In all 50 states plus 35 countries. Looks like they’re a big waste of resources…
Especially when they’ve got “nearly 50,000 volunteer Resource Members”, meaning it takes nearly 100 volunteers working for a year to “serve” 1 woman & child. I guess we should be happy they’re so ineffective.
The standard is impartiality in all it’s aspects, not just the avoidance of overt conflicts of interest or personal pre-judgements. You don’t think that if Scalia ruled against a pro-life appellant that he might get a frosty shoulder at home? I think most reasonable persons would expect that domestic disharmony would be a foreseeable consequence of him deciding a case in a way to which his wife (given her known pre-judgements) would object, and that therefore there is a reasonable perception of partiality which means that ethically he should recuse himself from such cases.
Tigtog #9: since when has a supreme court justice been expected to vote according to his/her spouses views? Would your idea of “impartiality in all its aspects” extend to the opinion of parents, or cousins?
Supreme Court justices usually only recuse themselves for one of two reasons: (1) having a financial stake in one of the parties or in the outcome of the case (e.g., owning stock in a party), or (2) being related to one of the lawyers in the case.
A spouse’s political views, even views they actively promote and work on, don’t rise to the level of conflict-of-interest that Supreme Court justices have traditionally employed in deciding on recusal. Of course, if the Nurturing Network was a *party* in a case, then that’d be a different matter. The risk of a ‘frosty shoulder’ at home isn’t enough.
As an analogy, if Justice Breyer’s wife was discovered to be involved with the Human Rights Campaign, should Breyer then recuse himself from any and all cases involving gay rights or gay marriage?
So any Justice who has a spouse with opinions must recuse him/herself? That’s an impossible standard, and one that’s ripe for abuse.
And moreover, I doubt anyone here honestly believes that Scalia’s wife’s job has anything to do with his decision. Scalia has opinions on abortion like he does on guns and free speech and search and seizure and dozens of other legal issues. Just like every justice does. We encourage judicial nominees to lie in the nomination process and pretend that “gosh, I’ve just never given any thought to Roe v. Wade, I guess I’ll deal with that if it comes up,” but surely we haven’t fallen for it?
That’s only because the Supreme Court, specifically, has given itself narrower standards for recusal than federal law applies. That’s all the more reason to challenge them to defend their decisions not to recuse themselves – and recusal motions do get filed.
This article quotes the text of 28 U.S. Code § 455 – Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge (Link to code)
Further discussion: Health care case again raises recusal controversy
and Should Scalia step aside in gay marriage cases
(cont’d from previous)
That NY Times article
More specifically, Scalia has been making statements like “They say they want to talk quietly to the women who are going into these facilities. Now how does that make them protesters?” and “This is not a protest case,” Justice Antonin Scalia said. “These people don’t want to protest abortion. They want to talk to the women who are about to get abortions and try to talk them out of it.” That tells me, and it should be obvious, that he has an unrealistic view of anti-abortion “counseling” that just happens to match how his spouse’s work is described. Even if her specific CPC, part of a supposedly apolitical organization where “saving” one woman and child takes 100 volunteers a year’s work, really lives up to its own promises and has never had its own volunteers go a few blocks down the road to “counsel” the clients of that Planned Parenthood clinic, I don’t think it coincidental that Scalia describes ALL clinic protesters as equivalents to his own family member. And the behavior of “sidewalk counselors” is absolutely key to the clinic buffer zone case under consideration.
(aaand I still had too many links in my split comments. Sorry, Ophelia!)
Ophelia Benson says
No problem, Pteryxx! Sorry I was slow to get to them.
Ophelia Benson says
Dayum. Useful information. Thank you.