Federal judge is publicly admonished for statements about SCOTUS chief justice and GOP

  • Print

judge and gavel

Image from Shutterstock.com.

A federal judge has been publicly admonished after he wrote a law review article calling Senate testimony by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “a masterpiece of disingenuousness.”

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of Milwaukee received the June 22 admonishment from the judicial council of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago, report the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Volokh Conspiracy. Adelman is an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

In his article for the Harvard Law & Policy Review, Adelman argues that the Supreme Court’s decisions have undermined voting rights and increased the power of corporations and wealthy individuals.

Adelman’s article begins: “By now, it is a truism that Chief Justice John Roberts’ statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee that a Supreme Court justice’s role is the passive one of a neutral baseball ‘umpire who [merely] calls the balls and strikes’ was a masterpiece of disingenuousness. Roberts’ misleading testimony inevitably comes to mind when one considers the course of decision‐making by the court over which he presides.”

Adelman also describes the Republican Party as having become “more partisan, more ideological and more uncompromising.”

The judicial council said Adelman’s comments about Roberts could be read as an attack on Roberts’ integrity, rather than a disagreement with his votes. Adelman’s comments criticizing GOP policy positions could cause someone to question his impartiality in matters implicating partisan or ideological concerns, the council said.

The council said its decision should not be interpreted to suggest that judges should not criticize court decisions. The “vast majority” of Adelman’s article consists of substantive criticism of Supreme Court decisions that are “well within the boundaries of appropriate discourse,” the council said.

But his criticism of Roberts and GOP policy positions “do not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,” the council said.

The council noted that Adelman tried to change the article, which was initially published online. He was told that it was too late. He also offered to publicly acknowledge that parts of his article were worded inappropriately, that he didn’t intend to criticize Roberts’ integrity, and that he was committed to impartial administration of justice.

Adelman has also shown over the years that he decides cases based on the law and facts and not on his personal views or inclinations, the council said.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.