In his annual report on the federal judiciary published Saturday, Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court wrote the he has “complete confidence” in the ability of his fellow high court justices to determine the appropriate time to recuse themselves from cases wherein they may have personal interest. Recusal is the process by which a judge abstains from participating in a hearing due to a conflict of interest. According to applicable federal law (United States Code Title 28, Section 455), a “judge shall recuse [himself] in any case in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
Roberts’s comment comes at an apropos time as in its next term the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in two very high-profile cases: one challenging the legality of Arizona’s immigration statute (S.B. 1070), the other seeks to determine the constitutionality of ObamaCare.
Justice Kagan has already announced that she will recuse herself from considering the Arizona immigration case. While serving as the Solicitor General in the Obama administration, Kagan was personally involved in many of the actions taken by the White House and the Department of Justice in the legal proceedings they initiated against Arizona after enactment of S.B. 1070.
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Photo of John Roberts: AP Images