Judge’s interest

Judge Joseph Meyer III, who overturned Colorado’s school voucher program, is married to a teacher at a school that would have been affected by the program. Meyer’s wife, Jane, also belongs to the teachers’ union whose lawyers fought the voucher law.

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  1. I don’t think the judge necessarily had to recuse himself… but, like the article states, it would have been very wise for him to have disclosed this publicly to both sides before ruling…
    The reason this is not a direct conflict of interest, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t hurt or benefit his wife or family either way… some of his wife’s students may have been elegible for vouchers, but that wouldn’t affect his wife’s salary or job in any direct way…
    Obviously, his wife may have had very strong views on the issue…
    Are you saying this judge can’t rule on any school related issue because his wife is a teacher?

    And for the heck of it, I’ll throw in this bone (cuz I know it will rile some of the conservatives up…) recall that Scalia’s son worked for the law firm that represented Bush in the recount case in 2000… was that a conflict of interest? should scalia have recused himself?

    And in a tangentially related issue… did it bother conservatives that Gov. Murkowski of Alaska appointed his very own daughter to replace him in the U.S. Senate when he became governor? I know this is not quite the same thing… but it still is pretty da*n suspect

  2. jab, to address your last point only, the Alaska thing, it bothered the heck out of this conservative.

  3. Jab … as to the recount case and Scalia and the riling of conservatives … we won, you lost, I’m not riled but if you keep reopening the wound what you’ll be doing is reminding the liberals once again. You should be nicer to your own kind. Shame on you !!

    I can not of course speak for all conservatives, but regarding feeling badly about that Alaskan thing … NO!

    The judge would probably had been better off had he recused himself. Whether or not there was any conflict of interest it was highly likely that there would appear to be a conflict. For that reason it may have been prudent had he done so.

    And before you call me hypocrytical … because there were instances where ‘conservatives’ should have used better judgement; has no bearing here. The question is not that it’s okay here because ‘we’ did it … the question is whether it was wise, not to have recused himself. And anywho … if I were (not admitting you see) a hypocrite how would that be relative to the merits of this judges position?

  4. D. Cooper,

    What a postively Clintonian answer.

  5. Well yes and no, but I’m not lying !!! Besides there’s nothing here to lie about … just opinion.

  6. She belonged to the union that was fighting it


  7. Brian,

    Scalia’s son belonged to the firm that was fighting the case.


  8. D. Cooper says:

    Hey Jab … if the Scalia case was bothersome … then why wasn’t this one. Are you only bothered when it’s ‘them’. You appear to berating Brian because the judge’s wife belonged to the union and that Brian should be upset because Scalia’s son belonged to the law firm. So …. are both judges wrong or just ‘ours’ … where are you going with this.
    And I don’t see any mention in Brians post of the Scalia case one way or the other. You seem inclined to argue just to be oppositional. (is that jab like left jab? … I wouldn’t suggest right jab !!!)

    Case Closed or Still Open …

  9. D. Cooper,

    As this is a conservative-leaning blog, I tend to try to give some of the conservatives a hard time… Honestly, in this case, yeah, I think the judge should have told both parties in advance, and if the voucher side objected, he probably should have recused himself…
    In judicial decisions, there shouldn’t even be the appearance of conflict of interest.

    On the other hand, on this blog there is so much “righteous indignation” at the evils of the left… I guess I get annoyed with the tone when I see conservatives doing the EXACT same thing.
    So when conservatives get all shocked at the audacity of this judge, I wonder where was their indignation when their own side was doing it.

    I’m sure it was just as bad in the past, but it just seems the judicial system is getting just as partisan as the other branches of government… I guess i was naive to believe what I was taught many years ago in civics…

  10. D. Cooper says:

    Peace out jab from an ‘unmean-spirited’ conservative !! …the extremists at both ends of the spectrum should be boiled in oil … oops that would be ‘mean-spirited’ … how about lightly fried in peanut oil …. yah .. that’s a little more centrist !!

  11. Isn’t the difference between this case and the recount that in this case the judge’s wife was a plaintiff (if the union was suing to stop the legislation), while in the recount case Scalia’s son worked for a lawyer representing one of the sides? Or does is there no difference between the two?

  12. The differences or similarities between the two cases is irrrelevant … one doesn’t necessarily justify or excuse the other. The other cases were cited in an attempt to mitigate this one. Regardless of the merits of the other cases, the judge here would have been more prudent to have recused himself even if he didn’t need to.

    I could officiate a game fairly even if my son or daughter were in it … but for the sake of appearences it would be better all around if it didn’t.

  13. Howard, to be precise, Scalia’s son worked for a law firm, and other employees of the firm represented Bush in court. It does not appear that the outcome of the case would affect the son’s career in any way, nor that the law firm was selected because of this relationship, nor that Scalia would have ruled any differently even if his kid had made the oral arguments for Gore. IANAL, but as I understand it, as large as law firms often are, and the way lawyers network, indirect conflicts of this nature are all too common, and a judge that is too scrupulous will sit out many cases. Maybe Scalia still should have recused himself from this particular case, but unlike lower courts, there are no alternates when a Supreme Court justice has to sit it out.

    I think Scalia’s opinion stinks ethically, but not because of this conflict – and most of the other justices smell just as bad. If you look at their usual positions on state versus federal power, the states-righters voted for federal supremacy and the federal supremacists voted for states rights in this particular case. That is, they all abandoned their principles for political expediency, both Democrats and Republicans.

    They all had a greater conflict – by confirming or picking the winner of the election, they were picking the man who might appoint their successor. But if they’d worried about that, there would have been no Supreme Court to rule on the case, which would have decided the case by default…

    It does seem like all the union members, including Meyer’s wife, would be plaintiffs in the voucher case. That seems like a direct conflict, at least technically much worse than Scalia’s conflict. I very much doubt that the wife had any choice about whether the suit was filed, or that a loss would have any immediate impact on her or her job, but it had a potential long-term impact. Her school might have eventually lost so many students as to have to lay off teachers, for instance.


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