Laird v. Tatum
409 U.S. 824 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Laird v. Tatum, 409 U.S. 824 (1972)

Laird v. Tatum

No. 71-288

Decided Oct. 10, 1972

409 U.S. 824

Memorandum of MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST.

Respondents in this case have moved that I disqualify myself from participation. While neither the Court nor any Justice individually appears ever to have done so, I have determined that it would be appropriate for me to state the reasons which have led to my decision with respect to respondents' motion. In so doing, I do not wish to suggest that I believe such a course would be desirable or even appropriate in any but the peculiar circumstances present here. [Footnote 1]

Respondents contend that because of testimony which I gave on behalf of the Department of Justice before the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate at its hearings on "Federal Data Banks, Computers and the Bill of Rights," and because of other statements I made in speeches related to this general subject, I should have

Page 409 U. S. 825

disqualified myself from participating in the Court's consideration or decision of this case. The governing statute is 28 U.S.C. § 455 which provides:

"Any justice or judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any case in which he has a substantial interest, has been of counsel, is or has been a material witness, or is so related to or connected with any party or his attorney as to render it improper, in his opinion, for him to sit on the trial, appeal, or other proceeding therein."

Respondents also cite various draft provisions of Standards of Judicial Conduct prepared by a distinguished committee of the American Bar Association, and adopted by that body at its recent annual meeting. Since I do not read these particular provisions as being materially different from the standards enunciated in the congressional statute, there is no occasion for me to give them separate consideration. [Footnote 2]

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