Bench Memos

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More Fishy Political Activity by Justice O’Connor


Whether rightly or wrongly, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor maintains that she now has senior status and can sit on lower-court cases. Yet she somehow feels free to engage in crass political activity that is inconsistent with the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.

I would think that everyone would agree that O’Connor’s latest instance of political misconduct is especially fishy. According to Politico:

O’Connor is hosting an invitation-only reception this evening to bolster opposition to a potential gold mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, home to the one of the world’s largest salmon runs. O’Connor will host a delegation of Alaskan salmon advocates – including environmental groups, commercial fishing outfits and Alaska natives – who are in town this week to ask EPA to pre-emptively block multinational mining outfit Anglo American from building an open-pit gold mine in the bay’s headquarters. They may get to take their case straight to the top, as a source tells POLITICO’s Patrick Reis that [EPA head] Lisa Jackson will attend the event as well.

Fish jokes aside, how is it that a sitting federal judge (or, more precisely, someone who believes herself to be a sitting federal judge) can somehow imagine that it is proper for her to help organize a political campaign aimed at influencing a federal agency?


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