It was widely claimed by the media to be inappropriate, as his lecture in the Trump hotel, at the invitation of the Fund for American studies, supposedly created an appearance of impropriety, campaigning, political affiliation, and thus bias towards President Trump - and especially at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court has several cases already for review, and coming for their review where President Trump is party in litigation.
Was criticism well-founded? I would agree that there was an appearance of impropriety that a judge would stay, eat and drink at a hotel belonging to a party in litigation.
Yet, in this case lines are somewhat blurred because the party in litigation is Trump not individually, but Trump in his official capacity as President of the United States, therefore, the party in question was the entirety of American citizens represented by Trump - and taxpayers definitely do not own the Trump hotel.
Moreover, judges routinely deny impropriety even if a 100% matching party in litigation participates in paying for their wining-and-dining and travels, if such travels are undertaken supposedly "to advance the excellence of the legal profession", "engage in meaningful discourse of public issues" and some such crap that judges invent to go eat, drink, shoot game, travel and philander on parties' and attorneys' dime.
An ethics professor from New York Stephen Gillers nonjudgmentally pointed out that "[n]o ethical document governs the behavior of a Supreme Court justice. They live in an ethics-free environment in so far as codes are concerned".
Then, without passing any judgment as to whether it is correct for SCOTUS to exist in an "ethics-free environment" and to consistently refuse to create a Code of Conduct for themselves, but instead to create a Code of Confidentiality for their law clerks after an embarrassing leak to Vanity Fair about how the Bush-Gore case was fixed:
"The law clerk owes the Justice and the Court complete confidentiality, accuracy, and loyalty. The Justice relies upon the law clerk’s research in reaching conclusions on pending cases. The Justice relies on confidentiality in discussing performance of judicial duties, and the Justice must be able to count on complete loyalty. Separate and apart from the duty owed by each law clerk to the appointing Justice is the duty owed by each law clerk to the Court as a body. Each law clerk is in a position to receive highly confidential circulations from the chambers of other Justices, and owes a duty of confidentiality with respect to such material similar to the duty owed to the Justice employing the clerk. The relationship between a Justice and a law clerk is essentially a confidential one. A law clerk should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in the Court. A law clerk should never disclose to any person any confidential information received in the course of the law clerk’s duties, nor should the law clerk employ such information for personal gain. The law clerk should take particular care that Court documents not available to the public are not taken from the Court building or handled so as to compromise their confidentiality within chambers or the Court building in general."
Ward, Artemus; Weiden, David L. Sorcerers' Apprentices: 100 Years of Law Clerks at the United States Supreme Court (pp. 16-17). NYU Press. Kindle Edition.
Now, please, tell me, why does a law clerk, a federal employee, paid by the American taxpayers to help a public official, a judge in doing the official business of an American public court, have to have a COMPLETE PERSONAL LOYALTY - no, not to the U.S. Constitution, not to the public who the law clerk is hired by and paid by, but to a single person, the "justice" who the law clerk "serves".
This completely corrupt document is apparently in effect today, therefore, not only SCOTUS refuses to constrain itself with a Code of Conduct, not only it invented for itself and other judges in the country absolute immunity for MALICIOUS and CORRUPT acts (Stump v Sparkman), but it also imposed upon its employees a code of personal loyalty not to betray judges' "confidences" - whether they are related to doing their job properly, or doing it erroneously and/or corruptly.
Since justices refused, for decades, to impose any Code of Conduct on themselves, and that includes both Republican and Democratic nominees, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress to do that for them, and is under review now.
Of course, professor Stephen Gillers who recognized that there is no Code of Conduct for SCOTUS judges, then stated the following:
"Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should do it. We rely on judges to exercise discretion to refrain from doing those things they can do but should not do to encourage public trust".
So, Professor of legal ethics claims that legal ethics is a matter of judicial discretion. That's rich of him already, but he adds insult to the injury claiming that, in context of Gorsuch's appearance at the Trump hotel for the conference of Funds for American Studies (not at the President's invitation), Gorsuch should have exercised that "discretion" by "refrain[ing] from doing those things they can do but should not do to encourage public trust".
I wonder how many other people, with and without a law degree, read these lines in complete disgust.
Where have you been, Professor Gillers, when Justice Ginsburg repeatedly made anti-Trump statements during his election campaign, then took an all-expense-paid trip that to the Hawaii Law school (that the Hawaii Law school refused to release to me on a FOIL request to pay thousands of dollars for search and retrieval of documents about who paid for SCOTUS justices' and their spouses' free vacations to that state taxpayer-funded paradise on Earth)?
Where have you been, Professor Gillers, when SCOTUS justices, while tossing 99% of their caseloads and having their law clerk do their jobs on the remaining 1%, are drawing their salaries for doing nothing and are gallivanting around the country on the dime of parties and attorneys appearing in front of them, and engage in international travel, speeches and "teaching" engagements paid for by foreign individuals, organizations and governments?
Why only now you criticize - and only very mildly so, without addressing core issues - the supposed appearance of impropriety of only one SCOTUS judge, and at that, only of a Trump nominee and only on a mickey-mouse issue, as compared to what Ginsburg is doing in front of the entire country to watch?
Because the so-called mainstream media only allows you to bash the President, his family, his cabinet and anybody even remotely associated with the President, including the judge nominated by the President?
But, here is the problem, Professor Gillers.
If it is bad for the gander, it must be bad for the goose.
If it is bad for Gorsuch to appear in the Trump hotel while reviewing a lawsuit against Trump, why does "Justice" Ginsburg still remain on the case, after she repeatedly made anti-Trump statements and made an all-expenses paid trip to the Hawaii State University School of Law, located within 7 miles from where the 9th Circuit was reviewing a case against Trump, at the time of that review, and, coincidentally, while she had confidential meetings with Hawaii Law School staff that listed THREE law clerks of the judge deciding the case against Trump, and while state universities argued in that same case their own financial "injury" from not being able to bring in paying immigrant students?
Not too many coincidences?
Not corrupt much?
It is inappropriate to say "fire" in a full theatre? Oops, I did not mean that. It is inappropriate to say "corruption" about a SCOTUS judge or any judge, for that matter, if you want to keep your gravy train in the legal profession?
So, you want Gorsuch to abide by an implied Code of Conduct? I do, too.
But, please, be consistent - demand it of other SCOTUS justices, too, at all times, not only when it is politically correct for the so-called "resistance" crowd.
Demand it of the old hag Ginsburg - sorry, she deserves absolutely no respect after what she is doing - who considered it possible not only:
- to repeatedly make anti-Trump statements,
- fix a case against him in the court below,
- then remain on the case at her court's level and partially ruling against him on an immigration case,
- she could not stop stalking not only Trump, but also his child, Tiffany Trump, who had absolutely no connection to her father's administration.