Judge Gonzalo Curiel is a picture of judicial impropriety, claims Alberto R. Gonzales, “White House counsel and U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, dean and Doyle Rogers Distinguished Professor of law at Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tenn.”
Yet not one anti-Trump, indignant journo—from Megyn Kelly (Fox News) to Chris Matthews to Katy Tur to Joe Scarborough to Chris Hayes (MSNBC) to Don Lemon to Erin Burnett (CNN) to Trump’s proliferating, less-than-competent female surrogates, to the domesticated Republicanscondemning the candidate—has mentioned Gonzales’ name or the incriminating facts he divulged about Justice Curiel’s unfitness to sit in judgment of Donald Trump.
Gonzales wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “Trump has a right to ask if Judge Gonzalo Curiel is fair”:
“… An independent judiciary is extremely important. But that value is not the only one in play here. Equally important, if not more important from my perspective as a former judge and U.S. attorney general, is a litigant’s right to a fair trial. The protection of that right is a primary reason why our Constitution provides for an independent judiciary. If judges and the trials over which they preside are not perceived as being impartial, the public will quickly lose confidence in the rule of law upon which our nation is based. For this reason, ethics codes for judges — including the federal code of conduct governing Curiel — require not only that judges actually be impartial, but that they avoid even the “appearance of impropriety.” That appearance typically is measured from the standpoint of a reasonable litigant. …”
“… Certainly, Curiel’s Mexican heritage alone would not be enough to raise a question of bias (for all we know, the judge supports Trump’s pledge to better secure our borders and enforce the rule of law). As someone whose own ancestors came to the United States from Mexico, I know ethnicity alone cannot pose a conflict of interest.”
“But there may be other factors to consider in determining whether Trump’s concerns about getting an impartial trial are reasonable. Curiel is, reportedly, a member of a group called La Raza Lawyers of San Diego. Trump’s aides, meanwhile, have indicated that they believe Curiel is a member of the National Council of La Raza, a vocal advocacy organization that has vigorously condemned Trump and his views on immigration. The two groups are unaffiliated, and Curiel is not a member of NCLR. But Trump may be concerned that the lawyers’ association or its members represent or support the other advocacy organization. Coupled with that question is the fact that in 2014, when he certified the class-action lawsuit against Trump, Curiel appointed the Robbins Geller law firm to represent plaintiffs. Robbins Geller has paid $675,000 in speaking fees since 2009 to Trump’s likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, and to her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Curiel appointed the firm in the case before Trump entered the presidential race, but again, it might not be unreasonable for a defendant in Trump’s position to wonder who Curiel favors in the presidential election. These circumstances, while not necessarily conclusive, at least raise a legitimate question to be considered. Regardless of the way Trump has gone about raising his concerns over whether he’s getting a fair trial, none of us should dismiss those concerns out of hand without carefully examining how a defendant in his position might perceive them — and we certainly should not dismiss them for partisan political reasons. … .”
MORE: “Trump has a right to ask if Judge Gonzalo Curiel is fair.”