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The Collective
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor

A Judicial Watch press release (U.S. District Judge Who Presided Over Government Wiretapping Case May Have Had Conflict of Interest) notes the following:

According to her 2003 and 2004 financial disclosure statements, Judge Diggs Taylor served as Secretary and Trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM). She was reelected to this position in June 2005. The official CFSEM website states that the foundation made a “recent grant” of $45,000 over two years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, a plaintiff in the wiretapping case. Judge Diggs Taylor sided with the ACLU of Michigan in her recent decision.

According to the CFSEM website, “The Foundation’s trustees make all funding decisions at meetings held on a quarterly basis.”

“This potential conflict of interest merits serious investigation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “If Judge Diggs Taylor failed to disclose this link to a plaintiff in a case before her court, it would certainly call into question her judgment.”

I don’t know enough about the rules of conflict of interest to know what to think about this in legal terms. At a first reading, however, this doesn’t look good.

It does strike me as unfortunate, as regardless of one’s position on the NSA wiretap program, one should acknowledge that it is an important issue that requires a serious hearing and discussion. So far this whole story has been overly focused on Judge Taylor and not about the serious questions of what kinds of powers the President should and should not have, and what constitutes adequate oversight of those powers.

Patterico find this to be a weak critique-calling it a “stretch” by Judicial Watch. Others are jumping on the story as a means to further criticize the ruling, of course.

File this one under “developing.” (Although, ultimately, I wonder if it really matters. This issue is far bigger than Taylor, her writing skills or her work on boards. While these issues may figure into the reasoning of the Court of Appeals, I can’t imagine that they would be major issues).

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2 Comments

  1. Judge Taylor Gets “Fringed.”

    No, Judge Anna Taylor Diggs did not vote for Ned Lamont. Apparently she has done something even worse. She had the audacity to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, ruling that President Bush’s “terrorist surveillance programs” were illegal and a direct violation of the first and fourth amendment, not to mention the FISA legislation passed by Congress.

    But rather than challenge her ruling on the law, in a tone similar to that used by the President in describing “islamo-facists,” the Republican Party immediately labeled her a “liberal Democrat judge.” Trying to make political hay, the RNC website screamed the headline “Liberal Judge Backs Dem Agenda To Weaken National Security.” Conservative bloggers were quick to call her an “Icon of the Lamont Party” and we soon learned that Judge Taylor had been appointed by that liberal “nut-ball” Jimmy Carter. The administration’ mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh weighed in saying she was “as dangerous as the enemy,” accusing her and Carter of “traitorous” behavior. Immediately, the dirt began to fly with a report zooming across the Internet that Taylor’s former husband, a congressman name Charles C. Diggs had been indicted and convicted on charges of taking kickbacks from his staff. Worse, it seems that Taylor had been a supporter of the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King. No doubt about it, she was a member of the liberal fringe, and probably a “commie” to boot.

    All this ire is aimed at a 73-year-old woman who has been a respected federal judge for nearly 20 years. One of the first female African American graduates from Yale Law school, (as many thoughtful conservative websites point out – “a two-fer”) she has had a distinguished legal career serving as a county prosecutor, assistant US attorney, and as an attorney in other government agencies and private practice, eventually rising to become Michigan’s first Black Female Federal Judge. As to her involvement in the civil rights movement, she is apparently guilty as charged. It seems she participated in such nefarious activities as registering voters in Mississippi.

    But in ruling against what she called the administration’s assertion that the president “has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution itself ” Judge Taylor, “Terrorist Sympathizer” that she is, has apparently crossed the line. She has joined the fringe.

    As one conservative blogger wrote, her ruling is “a shocking reminder of why Democrats must never be entrusted with power at any level. Apparently, he has a different interpretation of the Constitution as well.
    But it gets worse. The conservative blog-way spewed forth to call her an “Unpatriotic,” “America Hating,” “Crazy Bitch,” “Jihad Judge,” who should be “immediately impeached.” She is “insane” and must be a “black” or “fucking a sand nigger.” Judge Taylor deserves, as one blogger writes, “to have the first bomb that comes here dropped on her head.”

    And from the outlying edges of the real fringe comes this, as reported by the Huges for America Blog citing comments from Free Republic: “ This traitor should be taken out back and SHOT. Period. Not a joke, not sarcasm. I’m tired of this terrorist-allied judicial legislators. (Note: That’s not in the Constitution either.)

    As for the President Bush, he say’s “Those who herald this decision simply do not understand the nature of the world in which we live.”

    He is right about that.

    Comment by john mcdonald — Wednesday, August 23, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

  2. Moral, pick a better judge when forum-shopping, or you’ll end up with results like this http://markinmexico.blogspot.com/2006/08/nsa-eavesdropping-decision-volokh.html.

    Comment by Honza Prchal — Thursday, August 24, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

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