Cebull, of Billings, was nominated by former president George W. Bush and received his commission in 2001 and has served as chief judge for the District of Montana since 2008.
The subject line of the e-mail, which Cebull sent from his official courthouse e-mail address on Feb. 20 at 3:42 p.m., reads: “A MOM’S MEMORY.”
The forwarded text reads as follow:
“Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.
“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’ ” the e-mail joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’ ”
Cebull admitted Wednesday to sending the e-mail to seven recipients, including his personal e-mail address. The judge acknowledged that the content of the e-mail was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the e-mail was intended to be a private communication.
“It was not intended by me in any way to become public,” Cebull said. “I apologize to anybody who is offended by it and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.”
Cebull said his brother initially sent him the e-mail, which he forwarded to six of his “old buddies” and acquaintances.
“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.”
Travis McAdam, executive director for the Montana Human Rights Network, said the e-mail is highly racist rhetoric unbecoming of a federal judge.
“It’s one thing if the judge is not a fan of President Barack Obama, but you would think someone in his position would articulate that in a way that criticizes his policy decisions or his position on issues,” McAdam said. “We have a hard time believing that a legitimate criticism of the president involves distributing a joke that basically compares African Americans with animals.”
Cebull said he does not consider himself prejudiced against people of other races or ethnic backgrounds, and that his actions in his courtroom have demonstrated that.
“This is a private thing that was, to say the least, very poor judgment on my part,” Cebull said. “I did not forward it because of the racist nature of it. Although it is racist, I’m not that way, never have been.”
The White House declined to comment Wednesday on the incident.
My two cents: Cebull’s statements don’t seem to indicate any remorse or regret- it’s simply an expression of the depth of prejudice that can’t distinguish between racism and partisanship. I think this needs to be a big deal- and he needs to go.
- Call For Cebull To Step Down Gets Louder- Petition Edition (dgsma.wordpress.com)