Gavel Grab

Impeach Judge Bybee? (continued)

In the wake of the release of Justice Department memos about detainee treatment, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was the latest to talk about impeaching Judge Jay Bybee, a former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel who wrote some of them.  An excerpt, which begins at 7:30 of this video, reads:

MADDOW:  In reading the Bybee memo today, I have to say I am troubled by the fact the guy who reasoned out that waterboarding doesn’t inflict suffering is now a sitting federal judge. Is that forever? Is there any way that that gets undone?

GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR JONATHAN TURLEY:  Only if he resigns or if he’s impeached. It is a very obnoxious thought to think the author of this memo is rendering judgments on American citizens and has lifetime tenure. It is even more disturbing the Democrats did comparatively little to block the nomination, even though they knew he was involved in this controversy. They refused to take steps they could have taken that would have prevented him from going on the bench. And so, we have this now incredible image of the author of these unbelievable memos sitting in judgment and enforcing the law against hundreds of citizens during his lifetime tenure as a judge.

MADDOW: There is that impeachment idea, I suppose.

As we have noted, impeaching judges for legal work done before they take the bench could open a real can of worms.  If that can is opened, it’s won’t take long before we’re back to the days when Congressman Tom DeLay was threatening to impeach judges for a wide variety of political reasons.

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  1. goldstone April 17th, 2009 2:17 pm

    Torture and war crimes are probably good exceptions to the rule, “can of worms” or no.

    Slippery slope argument?

    Good. Which slope is slippier: Impeaching judges who have secretly legitimized torture? Or torture itself?

    Consequences matter, even in a can of worms.

  2. mike swick April 17th, 2009 8:44 pm

    let the integrity inquiry continue sanctions if requred will be done

  3. Jesmi April 20th, 2009 1:49 am

    The federal judiciary is out of control. For the most part, nominations/confirmations are back room brokered deals. Impeachment is dead. Judicial discipline is an “empty promise” where year-in-year-out across the country over 99% of judicial misconduct complaints are dismissed without investigation. (See “WITHOUT MERIT: The Empty Promise of Judicial Discipline”, Mass. School of Law, The Long Term View, Vol. 4, No. 1, p. 90, by Elena Sassower.) Justice Alex Kozinski summed it up best, where he stated in his dissent in the dismissal (3rd time) of the misconduct complaint against USDC Judge Manuel Real (Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit 9/25/05 ORDER, Misconduct Complaint No. 03-89037) at p.32: “… It does not inspire confidence in the federal judiciary when we treat our own so much better that we treat everyone else.” BINGO!

    Medianewstime

  4. […] about the potential pitfalls of impeaching a judge in this situation.  To read his comments, see this Gavel Grab posting.  Email This […]

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