(See my previous Judging the Judiciary)
Judges recusing themselves from a case to prevent the appearance of bias, conflict of interest, or any other impropriety is quite common.
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist had a legal colleague who argued against his appointment to the court at Rehnquist’s congressional confirmation hearing. The
Chief Justice recused himself whenever a case before the court involved this same lawyer.
Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. recused himself in cases involving Exxon as his portfolio contained Exxon stock.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor has stated, “I have chosen to remove myself from cases, even when not technically required by ethical rules,”
Justice Kagan recused herself from several dozen cases shortly after joining the Supreme Court to avoid the appearance of conflict as she had worked on the Federal Government’s preparation of some those same cases in her previous role of Solicitor General.
Not a Judge
The United States Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, after a foolish and disastrous private meeting with former President Clinton, which took place while his wife was under FBI Investigation, essentially recused herself from making a final determination on Hillary Clintons case.
Even though she is not a judge, she needed to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Revisiting Judging the Judiciary
What a difference it would have made in perception if Judge Aaron Persky, a Stanford graduate who was captain of a Stanford varsity sports team had recused himself from a rape case involving a varsity athlete from his alma mater Stanford.
Similarly, the RATIO/NAL Observer believes Judge Gonzalo Curiel should recuse himself from the Trump University case. Donald Trump’s views on immigration, borders, and the border wall with Mexico are well known to say the least. Judge Curiel’s memberships in and associations with various Hispanic organizations that are antithetical to those views almost certainly guarantee the perception of bias. More incendiary machinations on the immigration / border issue would be counterproductive.