U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Breyer Calls Recusal Controversy a 'Non-Issue'


Another Supreme Court justice is defending his court’s recusal practices.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said on Saturday that when ethics questions arise, he looks at the code of ethics and even calls an ethics professor for advice, the Associated Press reports. “All my colleagues try to do the same thing, so I think this is a non-issue,” he said.

Breyer commented in response to a question during a conference of law professors, according to AP. He said the ethics code guides him and his colleagues as it does lower court judges. “We are bound. We’re acting as if we’re bound,” he said.

Breyer acknowledged, however, that he has to be careful in deciding whether to recuse himself because there is no one to replace him, the story says. “That means I have to take with absolute seriousness the obligation to sit as well as the obligation not to sit,” he said.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. also supported his court’s recusal procedures in his annual report on the state of the federal judiciary, issued on Dec. 31. The justices’ comments follow calls for recusals of Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan in the challenge to the health-care law.

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