Governor Scott Walker couldn't have drawn a better three judge panel to hear a sweeping case that aimed to gut Wisconsin's campaign finance laws.
Judge Diane Sykes, however, was a little too good of a draw.
Considering that Walker had recently and very publicly promised to appoint her to the U.S. Supreme Court if he's elected president, she absolutely should have recused herself from hearing this case.
Why? Because no one benefitted more than Scott Walker from this decision. Not only will it be a huge boost to his re-election campaign, but as head of the Wisconsin Republican Party it will overwhealmingly benefit them as well.
This is a clear violation of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges guidelines for appearances of improriety:
An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. This prohibition applies to both professional and personal conduct. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny and accept freely and willingly restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. Because it is not practicable to list all prohibited acts, the prohibition is necessarily cast in general terms that extend to conduct by judges that is harmful although not specifically mentioned in the Code. Actual improprieties under this standard include violations of law, court rules, or other specific provisions of this Code.
And it clearly meets as least two of the guidelines for when a judge should disqualify herself:
(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which:
- (a) or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party,
- (b)the judge served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or lawyer has been a material witness;
- (c)the judge knows that the judge, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge’s spouse or minor child residing in the judge’s household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be affected substantially by the outcome of the proceeding;
It gets worse: Sykes also was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2000 with the backing of Wisconsin Right to Life (the plaintiffs in this case) as well as Walker and Walker's top allies: Diane Sykes's ex-husband and Milwaukee right wing radio talk show host, Charlie Sykes.
It is breathtakingly absurd that she would hear this case.