A state judge in St. Louis has sparked quite a controversy with a new book called The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault. I haven’t seen the book, nor am I likely to read it; from the excerpts I’ve seen from it, it looks like standard conservative boilerplate rhetoric about liberal judges destroying the world and making it unsafe for moms and kittens and apple pie. But some, it seems, want him removed from the bench because of the book:
The sentiments expressed in that chapter, which frequently uses the term “femifascists” and is titled “The Cloud Cuckooland of Radical Feminism,” have already prompted a complaint with the state body that can reprimand or remove judges.
Other judges and lawyers have said that Dierker may have violated a state rule against a judge using his or her position for personal profit. One judge said it would be surprising if Dierker was not removed, calling the book “professional suicide.”
But this is pretty much nonsense. Judges write books all the time, and often profit from them. Justice Breyer spent most of last summer on a book tour for his new book, which criticizes conservative judicial theories. No one has ever hinted at having him removed from office. Justice Scalia, likewise, has published books in the past where he has expressed firmly held opinions on various subjects. The idea that judges aren’t allowed to publish books, or books that contain strong opinions, is simply false. That hasn’t stopped some from trying:
Lawyers could cite the book as evidence that Dierker is unable to be impartial on issues involving women, or liberals, or the American Civil Liberties Union, for example, forcing his removal from cases…
Dierker could also face an inquiry from Missouri’s Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline. Most of what the commission does is informal and secret. But the commission does have the power to recommend anything from a public reprimand to removal of the judge from office.
State Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, filed a complaint with the commission last month, citing her concerns with the first chapter. Bray said, “I’m still worrying about women in Missouri being treated fairly in the courtroom.” She said she plans a follow-up complaint, based on conversations with lawyers and judges, that would include a complaint that Dierker was violating judicial rules by using his position to promote the book.
Unless the Missouri law is written completely differently from most such laws, they don’t have a good argument to make here. Judges write books all the time and there is nothing wrong with that. And even if they didn’t write books, they don’t come to any case as a blank slate.