January 09, 2006

Kennedy on recusal.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, during debate over whether then-Supreme Court nominee Stephen Breyer -- a former Kennedy staffer -- acted ethically when he did not recuse himself from cases involving Lloyd’s of London, an insurance firm in which Breyer had invested before becoming a judge (7/29/94):

    “…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 thoroughly examined the Lloyd's issue. The committee's investigators reviewed hundreds of pages of documents relating to it, and Judge Breyer was extensively questioned about it during the committee's hearings. 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.

    “Judge Breyer publicly disclosed his Lloyd's investments each year, so that litigants could decide for themselves whether to seek his recusal in any particular case. He always recused himself from any case where Lloyd's was a party, or where it appeared from the court papers that Lloyd's insured a party in the litigation or otherwise had a direct interest in the outcome. He has never sat in any such case. After carefully reviewing the evidence, every member of the Judiciary Committee concluded that Judge Breyer had acted in full compliance with the ethics rules, and every Member voted in favor of his nomination. 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. Its letter to the Judiciary Committee attests to the high esteem in which Judge Breyer's integrity is viewed by those who have served with him on the Federal courts. I would like to read an excerpt from the ABA letter: ‘Chief Judge Breyer has earned and enjoys an excellent general reputation for his integrity and character. No one interviewed by the Committee had any question or doubt in this regard. His colleagues in the First Circuit, where he has served for fourteen years, the last four as Chief Judge, commented on his character and integrity in terms such as these: ‘He is absolutely first rate, a remarkable combination of one who has character and is intelligent, yet is a personable and likeable human being’; ‘He combines acute intelligence and a deep sense of humanity. He is a down to earth human being who is very smart. This is simply a superb appointment.’"
Of course, Kennedy’s arguments in this statement can be applied to Judge Alito and the Vanguard case.

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