One of the stalwarts of the Supreme Court is facing heat from a conservative legal firm after weighing in on a same-sex marriage case pending in a lower court, which could be a violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made comments concerning gay marriage cases before the Sixth District Court of Appeals, which governs Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, saying “there will be some urgency” if the lower court allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. She made the comments before an audience at The University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis, according to The Associated Press.
But Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, argues that Ginsburg was taking a stance on an issue that could come before her and therefore violate professional standards; he told The Blaze that making those comments “is a violation of ethical code.”
“Judges are not supposed to make public comments on cases that are pending before them, especially saying which way they would vote before hearing the merits of the matter.”
Staver is referring specifically to parts of Canon 2 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which are titled “Respect for Law” and “Outside Influence”:
“A judge should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
“A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness”
In a press release, Staver asserted that Ginsberg’s comments:
“implied that the merits of the state constitutional amendments defining marriage as one man and one woman were such that the Superme Court would have to overturn them with haste, if upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court of appeals.”
Staver added, “This is an inappropriate comment for any judicial employee, much less a Supreme Court Justice!”
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Photo credit: Wake Forest University School of Law (Flickr)