New Orleans U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D), the congressman who represents the city where the powerful United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit hears most of its cases, said yesterday that allegations of racism against one of the court’s judges could render her unfit for the bench. A complaint filed this week against Judge Edith Jones alleges that she claimed African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to violent crime, among other things, during a speech at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
If the allegations against Jones prove true, Richmond said in a letter to Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Carl Stewart, they “demonstrate personal racial and religious bias as well as questionable legal analysis,” and “are incredibly inappropriate for a sitting jurist at any level, let alone a former chief judge on one of the highest level Article III Courts of Appeal.” He also urged Chief Judge Stewart to begin an investigation.
Richmond’s letter also strongly suggests that Jones should no longer remain on the bench if the allegations against her are proven. Her alleged statements, Richmond said, “reflect the personal bias of a person who is not fit to render judgments on some of the most important legal disputes of our time.”
Though the allegations against Jones still need to be investigated, they are entirely consistent with her past record. Jones once joined an opinion claiming that a man whose lawyer slept through much of his trial could still be executed. She’s indicated she would uphold pornography bans and bans on using “the ‘F’ word in public venues.” And she once wrote an opinion claiming that a woman whose co-workers grabbed her buttocks with pliers, stuck their tongue in her ear, and told her that “he would cut off her breast and shove it down her throat” could not sue her employer for sexual harassment — even though the woman repeatedly reported these incidents to management and the company took no meaningful action.
Nor would Jones’ alleged statements at the University of Pennsylvania be the first time she made racially questionable remarks. According to the Houston Chronicle, Jones suggested that people who believe they’ve faced employment discrimination should “[t]ake a better second job instead of bringing suit.”