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Conflict of interest? You be the "judge"
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Seems Judge Ann Diggs Taylor is Secretary and a trustee for CFSEM (Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan).

Seems the CFSEM made a recent grant of $45,000 over two years to the ACLU of Michigan.

Seems the ACLU was the plaintiff in the recent lawsuit decided in the plaintiff's favor by Diggs Taylor.

Conflict of interest?

Judicial Watch (via Gateway Pundit) says it is very possible:
"This potential conflict of interest merits serious investigation," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "If Judge Diggs Taylor failed to disclose this link to a plaintiff in a case before her court, it would certainly call into question her judgment."
Patterico says "not really":
I am not impressed with this criticism of Judge Taylor. (Via Hot Air.) I think Judicial Watch is stretching here. If you want to criticize her for her past meddling in cases to steer them to liberal judges, I think that’s fair game. And of course, criticizing her terrible NSA opinion is a no-brainer. But straining to find financial conflicts of interest where they don’t exist — don’t bother.
Patterico doesn't think there's any "there" there.

Your take on the matter?
 
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Eh.

CFSEM has upwards of 50 trustees, and awarded over $27 million in 2005. What the ACLU got was a mere drop in the bucket, and probably wasn’t the result of any special influence or actions on her part.

Probably should’ve been disclosed in the interests of completeness, but there’s not much here.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Hell, I don’t think it’s a conflict if she herself gave $50,000 to the ACLU, it’s not like she’s expecting them to give her something back, is it? Or that she gets anything out of it other than a charitable deduction?

This is like Alito’s Vanguard thing, nothing there there.
 
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
I’ll go with Patterico’s opinion...

BUT, Ugh:
Hell, I don’t think it’s a conflict if she herself gave $50,000 to the ACLU, it’s not like she’s expecting them to give her something back, is it? Or that she gets anything out of it other than a charitable deduction?
You CAN’T be serious?! IF she gave money to the plaintiff, as charitable cause, it would imply if not state, "I like the plaintiff". Sorry that’s IMPROPER. Is it Ok if the judge is dating the plaintiff’s attorny or the plaintiff? Of course it’s not. You’re point is pretty silly. Alternatively would you find it unobjectionalbe if the judge had contributed $50,000 to the Republican Party and $3,000 to Dubya’s re-election campaign?

Bottom-line: I like Patterico and will accept his argument, but UGH YOUR argument is weak and wrong.


 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Here is an example of a much worse and much more dangerous judge, Judge Leonard Wexler, appointed by Reagan.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/22/AR2006082201211.html

"On Tuesday a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a jury should have been told it could consider whether Hurwitz acted in good faith in treating patients with chronic and debilitating pain.

The court said the trial judge erred in informing jurors that they could consider good faith only on two fraud counts and not on the other charges. Hurwitz was acquitted on the fraud charges."

Judge Wexler, age 82, a Senior Judge sitting by designation in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, refused to allow the defendant to submit copious amounts of exonerating evidence, refused to submit the DEA’s own policy papers to the jury, and then refused to give the jury the correct legal standard with which to consider the evidence. At sentencing, upon giving Hurwitz 25 years, Judge Wexler told him that he deserved it because, among other things, Hurwitz was "one of the chosen people."

U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty who brought the case, is also known for bringing charges against Rosen and Weissman in the AIPAC case. McNulty, apparently has no compunction about ruining people’s lives by bringing novel criminal cases.

 
Written By: william
URL: http://
Ann Althouse posts in the NYT [on this issue someone at the NYT is running a newspaper (for a change) instead of a textbook for the Liberal Narrative][no wait, the editorial page is handling the Liberal Narrative chores (it is screaming about Taylor being correct)][Hey! Editorializing on the editorial page, THAT is appropriate!]:
“If the words of the written opinion reveal that the judge did not follow the discipline of the judicial process, what sense does it make to take the judge’s word about what the law means over the word of the president? If the judge’s own writing does not support a belief that the rule of law has substance and depth, that law is something apart from political will, the significance of saying the president has gone beyond the limits of the law evaporates.
There’s irony for you. “
The illustration that accompanies the article is priceless.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
A counter to the Ann Althouse article (Yes it’s Grennwald, so those of you who think that anything he’s says can’t possibly be right have warning)
Georgetown Law Professor Marty Lederman — who took the time to read the DoJ’s Brief (.pdf) — explained that the DoJ "did not quite advance or support in any detail that argument — or any other merits argument, for that matter." Therefore, criticizing Judge Taylor for failing to address those "immensely difficult" arguments which were never raised in this case reveals a complete misunderstanding of this lawsuit and the legal principles governing Judge Taylor’s decision
Althouse’s accusation of "judicial activism" here is particularly incoherent given that Judge Taylor was upholding and enforcing a law (called FISA) that was overwhelmingly enacted by the American people through their Congress.
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
It’s pretty freakin sad when a law professor starts spouting the term "judicial activism". I’d hate to have to sit through one of her classes.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
anyone serious in this area knows this is not a conflict under any stretch. this is a rt wing anti judge, anti america smear group.

who cares about the reasoning. you cant search americans without a warrant. it is a crime bush admitted to doing and now this rightly confirms it. he can and will be punished for spying on americans against criminal law and so should alberto "i never found a law i could interpret right" gonzalez.
 
Written By: billy
URL: http://
davebo, and why is "judicial activism" such a dirty word to you? Afraid the word is getting around that judges are lessinterested in the LAW and more interested in outcome?

Actually Billy it’s NOT searching Americans... it’s LISTIENING to communications, FROM Foreigners. This may have escaped you in your Bush Derangement Syndrome, but at least let’s TRY to get the basic facts correct.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
This case was shameless judicial activism by a judge who’s too much of a hopeless hack even to do judicial activism right, but the conflict of interest argument is a stretch.
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/
A careful reading of Althouse’s column will show that she did not accuse Judge Diggs Taylor of "judicial activism". This is what she actually said:
So often, we’ve heard complaints about “activist” judges. They’re suspected of deciding what outcome they want, based on their own personal or ideological preferences, and then writing a legalistic, neutral-sounding opinion to cover up what they’ve done. That carefully composed legal opinion makes it somewhat hard for a judge’s critics to convince people — especially anyone who likes the outcome — that the judge did not decide the case according to an unbiased legal method of analysis.

So perhaps the oddest thing about Judge Taylor’s opinion in the eavesdropping case is that she didn’t bother to come up with the verbiage that normally cushions us from these suspicions. Although the first half of the opinion, dealing with the state secrets doctrine and the first part of the standing doctrine, has the usual detail and structure one expects in a judicial opinion, the remainder of her text dispenses with the formalities.
Her point seems to me that Judge Diggs Taylor did not write a sufficiently reasoned opinion to insulate herself from an accusation that she is an "activist". That point is quite correct imnsho.
 
Written By: vnjagvet
URL: http://www.yargb.blogspot.com
Let us sympathize with davebo. It must be pretty scary to contemplate having to sit in a class and listen to reasoned argument "on the other side" without being able to interrupt and shout it down with the Liberal Narrative. After what must be years of limiting your input to the LN it would certainly be unsettling to face up to facts that would indicate that the world is not as simple as reading the NYT and voting Democrat.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
A Carter appointee, another reason to love old Jimmy.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
davebo, and why is "judicial activism" such a dirty word to you? Afraid the word is getting around that judges are lessinterested in the LAW and more interested in outcome?
It’s not at all a dirty word. But it does have meaning.

Judicial Activism is the act of ignoring binding legislation while ruling on a case.

What legislation is involved in this case? FISA. The only way that this could be construed as judicial activism is if the court ruled that the administration does not have to conform to FISA statute in it’s eavesdropping program.

This seem pretty obvious to me, a lay person. The fact that Althouse doesn’t get it doesn’t lend her much credibility as a law professor.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
After what must be years of limiting your input to the LN it would certainly be unsettling to face up to facts that would indicate that the world is not as simple as reading the NYT and voting Democrat.
Ironic considering that Althouse’s article was printed in the New York Times.


Just for fun though, and since you’re into "reasoned legal arguments".

Are you going with the Presidents Article 2 powers allowing him to violate FISA or claiming that the AUMF somehow authorized him to violate FISA?

I anxiously await your reasoned legal argument.

And whatever happened to Libertarians? Is Neo a prefix that now denotes "anti"?

Also, what the heck is the "LN"?
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
"Just for fun though.."Davebo(y), There ain’t nothing "funny" about this issue. We are not sitting comfortably in Civics 101 eyeing the gorgeous blond and wondering what’s up in the cafeteria for dinner tonight. We’re not listening to the professor with the funny hairdo give us his worldview instead of discussing English Literature [that’s a trap. No English Lit prof I ever knew would be distracted by world events, but that is another topic...]. "Just for fun" just might mean [instead of the trap-laying behavior of the typical liberal] that you are willing to entertain a thought that doesn’t come from the LN (which reference you clearly understand...did you mean to bait me into expostulating on my favorite topic? You must get up much earlier if you wish to accomplish a feat like that).
I am going with my elected leader, who has inherited (not sought) a difficult challenge. The issue boils down to taking hard-enough, God knows, decision-making ability away from the elected leader and giving it to [an alternative] in the absence of a showing of harm to even one individual. Those wishing to make this transfer cannot prop up, in this day and age of victimhood, even one poor b*st*rd who has suffered harm from the actions complained-of. Nevertheless, they wish to add difficulties to the already burdensome task of dealing with terrorists.
Am I suposed to sympathize with people who are willing to subvert our entire system of justice, if necessary, to elect members of their political party?
I don’t think so.
There is NO ONE, not even the NYT, who can claim that this piece-of-sh*t ruling solves anything. Jeesus Christ, [thank God the liberals have not yet skewed things so that we can still put that phrase in comments without setting off the PC counters] we are supposed to turn something over to folks who cannot hide judicial activism any better than this? WTF!
Turn on your brain, davebo. Surely you can smell the coffee. Trying to prop up this excrescense of a judicial ruling shows the incompetent nature of those doing so. Are you really able to stomach these folks? Is THIS your team who can defeat the terrorists? Give me a break.



 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
There is another point raised by Althouse that bears repeating:
Laypeople consuming early news reports may well have thought, “What a courageous judge!” and “It’s a good thing someone finally said that the president is not above the law.” Look at that juicy quotation from Judge Taylor’s ruling: “There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution.”

But this is sheer sophistry. The potential for the president to abuse his power has nothing to do with kings and heredity. (How much power do hereditary kings have these days, anyway?) And, indeed, the president is not claiming he has powers outside of the Constitution. He isn’t arguing that he’s above the law. He’s making an aggressive argument about the scope of his power under the law.
This goes to the heart of the the Greenwaldians’ argument. They are framing the issue as if the defenders of the NSA program have argued that the President is a prince who is above the law. As Althouse points out, whatever the weaknesses of the administration’s position may be, they are clearly not based on any assertion of hereditary powers, nor do they rely on any claim that the President is not bound by the Constitution. So, the "prince" is a strawman.

As a layman, I do not see any Jose Padillas here. As far as I know there is no one who is claiming to have been injured or violated by the NSA program, per se. The assertion, as I understand it, is that, if the NSA program works the way its opponents think it does, then it violates FISA SOP. The Greenwaldians want me to be outraged, as a libertarian, that SOP has been violated.

I think they have libertarian confused with legalitarian. I look at the issue in terms of my intuitive expectations of individual liberty. If an NSA satellite is intercepting the communications of a known al Qaeda terrorist in a foreign land without a warrant, and thereby happens to record the conversation of someone in the US who was communicating with the terrorist, have we just gone down the slippery slope to monarchy? Is this the equivalent of a government agent kicking down the front door and searching a house without a warrant?

I am not defending the NSA program. I don’t really know the details, and I get the idea that they are not publicly available. I do believe that there needs to be oversight in any intelligence-gathering operation. I am not convinced, though, that a warrant is the only form of procedural oversight that could protect our liberty, and where foreign enemies are the focus of the intelligence-gathering and circumstances are exigent I don’t know if warrants make practical or Constitutional sense.

 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Jeez, Aldo, well said. But, of course, your comment passes over what this whole thing is actually about. In a word, it is Bush-bashing. [Yes, technicaly, that is a word]. Just as a boa constrictor crushes it’s prey, if we can ding away at the President, in any way possible, regardless of any danger of lessening his chances of defeating our current enemies, we can get Democrats elected and therefore do the work approved by the NYT [and other elite, liberal persons] toward making this world a more wonderful place in which to live.
Given the way the world is, and always has been, it is probably true that Bush is using the NSA program for nefarious purposes. We don’t, however, know that. What we do know is that being President of these United States is a bitch. And the current inhabitant of that chair is saying "f*ck off and die" to the folks who are after him about the NSA program. Now either he is looking after our interests, his own, or something else entirely. We have to pick. Or we can be Oliver Willises and just bang away and hope that our party benefits, regardless of world events.
Me? I think that Laura Bush is a fine person. I think that she says regularly: "George [or Honey bunch] are you doing that bad sh*t they say you are?" And I think he is saying: "No way, sweetheart. I am doing my best to protect America."
It’s good enough for Laura and it’s good enough for me. So forget about all that King stuff.
Is voting for Republicans a good idea? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, I also thing that voting for Democrats is a worse idea. Sh*t.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Aldo:

Don’t you think it matters if the president breaks the law? Euphemizing this by describing it as "SOP has been violated" makes me wonder. I mean, I can hear criminal defendants all around the country standing up and saying, Judge, I didn’t commit a crime, I just violated standard operating procedure. The fact that the U.S. Code makes something a crime has significance, especially when the actor is the chief law enforcement officer in the country.

You may well be correct that there are alternative ways to monitor the NSA surveillance to ensure that it is conducted for legitimate purposes, but the law that has been passed is FISA, and it requires warrants. And that law is binding on the president. He doesn’t get to decide unilaterally that he will do things his way. He doesn’t get to invent his own SOP. He has to comply with the law. That is the essence of the rule of law. And, just to be clear, I felt and said exactly the same things when Bill Clinton broke the law.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Don’t you think it matters if the president breaks the law? Euphemizing this by describing it as "SOP has been violated" makes me wonder.
Of course the President should not violate the law. My point is that, despite all of the hyperbole about monarchies and police states, the administration has NOT taken the position that that they are above the law. They are interpreting the law more broadly than their critics. If a judge finds that the administration’s interpretation is too broad, then they must bring the NSA program into conformance with the law as the judge defines it, and I fully expect that they will.

I deliberately used the word "SOP" as a counter to the people who have been promiscuously throwing around references to "civil rights" violations. If any actual civil rights violations have occurred, and we don’t know that they have, they have been technical, procedural violations, not the back-of-the-bus type abuses that the phrase connotes.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Robert,

I can only assume from your screed in reply that I hade left out one possible legal argument and you concur with it.

That "if the president does it, it’s not illegal".
Am I suposed to sympathize with people who are willing to subvert our entire system of justice, if necessary, to elect members of their political party?
Hilarious really. In defending someone who has admitted to breaking federal law, you rant about people willing to subvert our justice system.

Get a clue dude, and crawl out from under the bed already. Just because you piss your pants whenever a brown guy with a beard gets on an airplane doesn’t mean we all have to have a panic attack.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
the administration has NOT taken the position that that they are above the law.
The Administration argues that the President need not obey FISA. Call that what you will. My view is that the President doesn’t get to choose which laws he will obey any more that I do or you do. In fact, my opinion is that the President — as the chief law enforcment officer in the nation — should be held to a higher duty than the average citizen.
They are interpreting the law more broadly than their critics. If a judge finds that the administration’s interpretation is too broad, then they must bring the NSA program into conformance with the law as the judge defines it, and I fully expect that they will.
All lawbreakers would like the opportunity to do that once they’re caught.
I deliberately used the word "SOP" as a counter to the people who have been promiscuously throwing around references to "civil rights" violations. If any actual civil rights violations have occurred, and we don’t know that they have, they have been technical, procedural violations, not the back-of-the-bus type abuses that the phrase connotes.
We don’t yet know what abuses may have occurred. We don’t know who has been spied on or why. We don’t know whether the violations were "technical" or not. Hopefully, we will know soon (or the FISA court will). But the larger point is that the very purpose of FISA is to prevent civil rights violations by requiring the Executive to get prior judicial approval via a warrant.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/

 
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