U.S. Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito should excuse themselves from cases involving LGBTQ rights, a representative of a ‘nonpartisan’ judicial reform group has said.
In a letter sent to the justices and posted online Wednesday, the director of Take Back the Court, Aaron Belkin, expresses “serious concerns” about Kavanaugh’s and Alito’s impartiality in making any decisions in three civil rights cases involving the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
Belkin is referring to a picture that was shared on Twitter by the Brian Brown, president of the anti-marriage equality group National Organization for Marriage, on Oct. 29.
— Brian S. Brown (@briansbrown) October 29, 2019
In the photograph, which has raised red ethics flag among critics, shows the justices standing next to Brown “in what appears to be a private meeting at the Supreme Court,” the letter states.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Gerhard Müller and Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, a German socialite-turned-conservative Catholic-activist, are also in the photograph.
“Great day at US Supreme Court,” wrote Brown — who’s also the president of World Congress of Families, an anti-LGBTQ organization designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
National Organization for Marriage, an organization that was formed in 2007 to oppose same-sex marriage in California — and went on to become a powerful advocate for “traditional marriage” — filed amicus briefs in three high-stakes civil rights cases that are currently pending before the Supreme Court and will decide if a person can legally be fired for being LGBTQ.
Quoting from the Code of Conduct for Federal Judges, Belkin writes that, “A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment.”
Even though the Code of Conduct doesn’t apply to Supreme Court justices, Belkin adds, they should have “an ethical duty to decide for themselves if recusal is necessary to avoid bias or the appearance of bias,” and therefore rescue from the three cases.
“The fact that the Supreme Court does not have formal ethics rules is no excuse for behaving unethically,” he writes.
The letter concludes with harsh words for the two justices.
“The credibility and impartiality of the current Supreme Court is in tatters. Posing for photographs with the president of an advocacy organization that has filed briefs in matters pending before the court makes a mockery of Chief Justice (John) Roberts’ assertion that a judge’s role is to impartially call balls and strikes,” Belkin writes.
“If you refuse to recuse yourselves, this incident will further illustrate the urgent need for structural reform of the Supreme Court in order to restore a Court that understands its role is to protect individual rights and our democracy.”
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