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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Maui NEA RA delegate pushes through judicial code of conduct amendment

Delegates also back 100% college loan forgiveness for educators

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

For Justin Hughey, the fourth time was the charm.

The Kamehameha III Elementary teacher and Maui delegate to the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly has tried for four years to get a legislative amendment approved supporting a judicial code of conduct for the justices of the Supreme Court.

Last week, at the NEA RA in Houston, more than 6,000 educator delegates from across the country finally approved Hughey’s amendment.

“It feels great. It took me four years to pass this and I just never gave up and it’s something I really believe strongly in,” Hughey said.

“You don’t want these Supreme Court justices to have any sort of bias, any kind of corruption," Hughey added.

"So before, we had (the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin) Scalia and (Justice Clarence) Thomas both attend" an event sponsored by the billionaire Koch brothers, who have bankrolled various conservative and anti-union causes, Hughey said. "That gave people a feeling that if there was an election finance case that came before them, it kind of seems that they have a bias in that area. So you want to kind of eliminate bias, eliminate corruption with strong ethics laws, strong ethics code of conduct.”

“I believe the forefathers didn’t establish one because they believed that every Supreme Court justice would have the best record and trust when appointed to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, with Brett Kavanaugh having faced rape charges and 83 ethics complaints that were thrown out because of a lack of code of conduct, I wanted NEA to be on board with restoring trust to the Supreme Court,” Hughey added. 

Dozens of Kavanaugh complaints dismissed because there's no ethics code for Supreme Court

More than 80 ethics complaints filed about Kavanaugh were dismissed in December of 2018 because his confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice means he's no longer under the jurisdiction of the court's disciplinary system, USA TODAY reported.

The 83 complaints varied but generally alleged that Kavanaugh lied during his confirmation hearings to the D.C. Circuit court in 2004 and 2006, more than a decade before he was chosen by President Donald Trump to fill a vacancy on the nation's highest court, according to a 10-page order from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado, the newspaper said.

Some of the complaints also alleged Kavanaugh lied during his tumultuous confirmation hearings this summer to the Supreme Court and made "inappropriate partisan statements that demonstrate bias and a lack of judicial temperament," the judicial council of the court wrote in the order. 

In the end, though, the council of judges concluded they couldn't discipline Kavanaugh because he is no longer under their authority since he was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, according to USA TODAY.

"The complaints must be dismissed because, due to his elevations to the Supreme Court, Justice Kavanaugh is no longer a judge covered by the [Judicial Conduct and Disability Act]," the judges wrote in the order. 

The act only covers individuals while they are serving as a circuit, district, bankruptcy or magistrate judge "even if the alleged misconduct occurred during the time the judge was covered under the act," the judicial council noted, adding that other courts have come to the same conclusion. 

Fix The Court, an organization that advocates for judicial transparency, said that this ruling showed that an overhaul was needed for the judicial disciplinary process. 

The decision "underscores the need for the Supreme Court to adopt its own code of conduct or for Congress to write one if the justices cannot be bothered, and it demonstrates that the judicial misconduct rubric passed four decades ago - which fails to mention sexual misconduct, has no automatic change of circuit for complaints and forgives justices' bad behavior in every instance - needs a serious rewrite," the organization's executive director, Gabe Roth, said in a statement.

NEA amendments also target cruel immigration policies, educators' loan forgiveness

Other legislative amendments approved by delegates this year in Houston include NEA support for:

  • Legislation to end the practice of incarcerating immigrant children by developing humane, equitable, and expedited processes for determining asylum cases and placing children with family and/or sponsors.
  • Legislation prohibiting separation of immigrant children from their families.
  • Legislation that creates a 100 percent loan forgiveness program for educators across the nation. This shall include any individual employed in public education.
  • Legislation to study and develop reparations and full repair proposals for descendants of enslaved Africans in the United States to address the past and residual effects of slavery.
  • Federal policies that require implementation of coordinated early intervening services to help ensure students, especially students of color, are not disproportionately misidentified for special education services.
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