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Recusals and the Court

By New York Times, New York Times - October 8, 2010

Justice Elena Kagan’s seat was empty when the second case of the new term of the Supreme Court was called for oral argument on Monday. Because of her previous job as President Obama’s solicitor general, she has, so far, recused herself from 25 of 51 cases accepted.

She is making the right choice. But the court’s voluntary system of recusal isn’t enough to protect its impartiality and credibility. The justices decide on their own when their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” There is no review, no requirement for explanation and no code of discipline as a check.

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