January 09, 2006

Kennedy and Judicial Ethics: Then and Now

During his opening statement today Senator Kennedy continued his attacks on Judge Alito integrity, specifically citing a case involving Vanguard (though Vanguard was NOT a party). Twelve years ago, however, Kennedy led the defense of then-Judge Breyer when his nomination to the Supreme Court was threatened by accusations that he acted unethically when he ruled on several cases that could have had a substantial financial effect on Lloyd’s of London, an insurance firm that Breyer had a significant investment in.

Below is a statement by Senator Kennedy on July 29, 1994 on the Senate floor concerning the debate.

Senator Kennedy…I would like to address myself very briefly to the questions raised and belabored in some quarters regarding Judge Breyer's investment in Lloyd's of London...The Judiciary Committee obtained opinions from leading experts on judicial ethics and environmental insurance litigation. The overwhelming majority of those consulted concluded that Judge Breyer violated no ethical rules…He always recused himself from any case where Lloyd's was a party…The Bar Association of the city of New York and the American Bar Association each found that Judge Breyer had unquestionable integrity. Indeed, the ABA gave Judge Breyer its highest rating.

Of course, each of Kennedy’s three arguments in this statement can be applied to Judge Alito. First, each of the three leading experts on judicial ethics asked by the Judiciary Committee to review the record have said that Alito did not violate the code of judicial ethics. Second, Alito never ruled in a case in which Vanguard was a party. Third, the ABA, which takes integrity and adherence to the legal ethics codes into consideration, has unanimously given Judge Alito its highest rating.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home