Another Vacancy on 9th Circuit – Judge Alex Kozinski Retires After Accusations of (Sexual) Misconduct
“It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent.”
Alex Kozinski was perhaps the most well-known member of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and was its former Chief Judge.
It’s hard to characterize Judge Kozinski in terms of the political conservative/liberal split. He was nominated by Ronald Reagan, but because he was on the 9th Circuit, popular opinion tends to treat him as a liberal. Libertarian probably is a better descriptor, and he was known as a defender of individual rights:
Judge Kozinski was critical of 9th Circuit decisions that were so extreme they invited reversal from the Supreme Court (which happened frequently). He joined the dissent in the 9th Circuit decision refusing to hear en banc a panel decision enjoining Trump’s first travel order:
As tempting as it is to use the judicial power to balance those competing interests as we see fit, we cannot let our personal inclinations get ahead of important, overarching principles about who gets to make decisions in our democracy. For better or worse, every four years we hold a contested presidential election. We have all found ourselves disappointed with the election results in one election cycle or another. But it is the best of American traditions that we also understand and respect the consequences of our elections. Even when we disagree with the judgment of the political branches—and perhaps especially when we disagree — we have to trust that the wisdom of the nation as a whole will prevail in the end.
He was a huge personality, and famous for appearing on The Dating Game before he joined the bench.
Unfortunately, he likely will be remembered for accusations that he showed porn to a law clerk a couple of decades ago and made off-color jokes. That dust-up led to his resignation today. The L.A. Times reports:
Alex Kozinski, a prominent voice on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, said Monday he was retiring immediately in the face of more than a dozen reports of sexual misconduct.
Kozinski, who served more than three decades on the appeals court, faced allegations that he showed clerks pornography, improperly touched women and kept a chart of his college sexual conquests.
The brash, outspoken judge was strong presence on the court. He espoused quirky positions and a sense of humor that delighted some but that in the end he said contributed to his downfall….
He said in a prepared statement that he was retiring because he could no longer be an effective judge.Two of his four law clerks resigned last week as reports of his misbehavior escalated on the Internet….
“I cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle,” Kozinski said in a statement distributed by the 9th Circuit. “Nor would such a battle be good for my beloved federal judiciary.”
What once was treated as a joke, now is a firing offense. He couldn’t be fired, as he had life tenure, but he clearly did not want to go through what staying on the bench would have meant. Here is his full statement (pdf.):
It has been an unparalleled honor to serve as a federal judge for more than thirty-five years. I firmly believe that a strong judiciary, free from political pressures, is vital to the preservation of this great nation. I found in this country, and in my work, opportunities and satisfaction that I never thought imaginable when I arrived here, at the age of 12, a refugee from Communism. I am grateful to my colleagues with whom I have had the privilege of serving, and to the countless hard-working lawyers who have appeared before me. I have learned so much from them all and will be forever grateful for their professionalism, intellectual rigor, and in many instances their steadfast friendship.
It has also been my privilege to help train the best and the brightest of several generations of new attorneys. I was made better by working with them. My clerks went on to stellar careers in law, business and academics. Their success has made me proud and I am gratified by the outpouring of support I have received privately from so many of them.
Still, I’ve always had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks alike. In doing so, I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace. It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent.
For this I sincerely apologize.
A couple of years ago, as I reached the age when several of my colleagues had decided to take senior status or retire, I began considering whether the time had come for me to move on as well. Family and friends have urged me to stay on, at least long enough to defend myself. But I cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle. Nor would such a battle be good for my beloved federal judiciary. And so I am making the decision to retire, effective immediately.
What this means, in the short term, is that there is an additional immediate vacancy for Trump to fill on the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit, adding to 4 current vacancies:
With one prior nomination, plus now 5 vacancies, Trump has the possibility of making a dent in the 9th Circuit liberalism, but only a dent. The Court has 29 appeals court judgeships. But it’s a start.DONATE
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