Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
17 October 2011

All over America, GOP-led legislatures are pushing to impeachstate judges. Lawmakers in Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have moved in on the judicial branch, the most infamous of these crusades being the effort in Iowa to oust those state supreme court judges who voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Evidently that is still a “high crime or misdemeanor” to some. It’s one thing for politicians to seek out impeachment proceedings that are sui generis. But now legislators are including specific impeachment language in the text of their statutes. In Arizona, New Hampshire and Virginia, rump Republican lawmakers this year introduced bills making it an impeachable offense for judges to make rulings on FOIA requests or to merely cite international law. There’s a legal term-of-art for such efforts: it’s called “bat-shit crazy.” – Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic

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