Questioning Judge Reinhardt’s Impartiality

Over at Bench Memos, Ed Whelan argues that Judge Reinhardt is obligated to recuse himself from the Prop 8 appeal because his wife, Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, was consulted about whether to bring the case in the first place. Ed suggests that his wife’s role before the case was brought means that Reinhardt must recuse himself because his “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

I’ll leave it to the legal ethics experts to weigh in on this question, as I don’t know what to make of it. My gut reaction is that no reasonable person familar with Reinhardt’s way of deciding cases could believe that his wife’s involvement would make any possible difference in how he approached the case. But I don’t know if the recusal standard is supposed to use a more idealized standard.