Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, the Carter appointee who ruled that the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program was unconstitutional, has a connection to the Michigan ACLU, the plaintiff in the NSA case, and should have recused herself.
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and judicial abuse, announced today that Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who last week ruled the government's warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional, serves as a Secretary and Trustee for a foundation that donated funds to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, a plaintiff in the case ACLU et al. v. National Security Agency. Judicial Watch discovered the potential conflict of interest after reviewing Judge Diggs Taylor's financial ndisclosure statements, available on Judicial Watch's Internet Site, www.judicialwatch.org.
According to her 2003 and 2004 financial disclosure statements, Judge Diggs Taylor served as Secretary and Trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM). She was reelected to this position in June 2005. The official CFSEM website states that the foundation made a "recent grant" of $45,000 over two years to the ACLU of Michigan, a plaintiff in the wiretapping case. Judge Diggs Taylor sided with the ACLU of Michigan in her recent decision.
According to the CFSEM website, "The Foundation's trustees make all funding decisions at meetings held on a quarterly basis."
"This potential conflict of interest merits serious investigation," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "If Judge Diggs Taylor failed to disclose this link to a plaintiff in a case before her court, it would certainly call into question her judgment."
(Judge Diggs Taylor is also the presiding judge in another case where she may have a conflict of interest. The Arab Community Center for Social and Economic Services (ACCESS) is a defendant in another case now before Judge Diggs Taylor's court [Case No. 06-10968 (Mich. E.D.)]. In 2003, the CFSEM donated $180,000 to ACCESS.)
Now we know why the ACLU went to Detroit. Yes, this federal court assigns cases randomly, but let's not forget, Judge Taylor has a history of working to stack the deck in favor of the side she agrees with.
And pay attention to the last paragraph of the above article. Note the pattern?
Captain Ed also notes the conflict, but says it probably won't lead to any serious consequences:
[T]his does not appear to violate the legal canon of ethics, at least not explicitly, but it does seem rather too close for comfort. Many judges probably either belong to the ACLU or have given it support, but in this case it would appear unseemly for Taylor -- as an officer of an organization that is a major benefactor -- to have presided over a lawsuit the Michigan chapter brought. I doubt she will get any official sanction, but I also think it will dent her reputation than her opinion in the case has already done.
You shouldn't need a money trail here to make you believe she was inclined towards the plaintiff. The opinion speaks for itself. But if there simply must be score-settling, this is where it'll come from...The twist is that she's not a trustee of one of the parties; she's a trustee of an organization that helped fund one of the parties. One step removed. Thus it's a question of the spirit of the law versus the letter.
Update: Stop the ACLU has more information on Judge Taylor's past unethical behavior in the U of M affirmative action case.