A piece in today’s Missoulian by 6 UM Law School professors gives us an excellent reason to keep up the calls for his resignation and/or dismissal: the irreparable damage to impartiality. Excerpt:
Racism and sexism work in pernicious ways. Although there are still open racists and sexists everywhere, thanks to the civil and women’s rights movements much of what we now see resides in more subtle institutional arrangements and private, informal interactions that define our daily existence. Racism and sexism lurk in systemic processes, in implicit understandings, in gestures and jokes. Hidden from the light of public scorn, they thrive in structural formalities, personal relationships and private interactions.
Every once in a while, we catch a rare glimpse of these manifestations. U.S. Chief District Judge Richard Cebull’s e-mail and equivocations provided the latest example. Sent an admittedly racist and misogynistic email, Cebull chose to promote it to others. And when caught having forwarded the disturbing message, Cebull tried to distinguish the email’s content from his intent and his act from his character, demonstrating a profound misunderstanding of racism and sexism.
I know that I certainly would not feel comfortable having him decide a case involving me- or anyone I know for that matter. I would probably be able to make a case- as would anyone who has spoken out against him- for recusal. I would feel suspicion and mistrust- and fear. Not the feelings a Federal Judge should engender….
We acknowledge Cebull’s contributions to our profession. We also hear his contrition and recognize that we have all made mistakes. But his is not a simple lapse in judgment or momentary moral failing. As a federal district judge – the chief judge of Montana – the consequences of his actions are that racial and ethnic minorities, women and even people with whom he disagrees politically now have clear reason to question his ability to be fair and impartial when they appear in his court. The cynical may even try to exploit his revealed biases.
Cebull has irreparably compromised his ability to promote the independence, integrity and impartiality of the United States District Court in Montana.
Agreed. I just hope we can do something about it.