The AP reports that well over half of the federal trial judges in states affected by the BP oil disaster have financial ties to that industry:
Thirty-seven of the 64 active or senior judges in key Gulf Coast districts in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida have links to oil, gas and related energy industries, including some who own stocks or bonds in BP PLC, Halliburton or Transocean — and others who regularly list receiving royalties from oil and gas production wells, according to the reports judges must file each year. … [O]ne federal judge in Texas is a member of Houston’s Petroleum Club, an “exclusive, handsome club of, and for, men of the oil industry.”
Industry ties among federal judges are so widespread that they are beginning to endanger the courts’ ability to conduct routine business. Last month, so many members of the right-wing Fifth Circuit were forced to recuse themselves from an appeal against various energy and chemical companies that there weren’t enough untainted judges left to allow the court to hear the case. Nevertheless, Senate conservatives are doing everything in their power to prevent President Obama from appointing new judges who do not share the federal judiciary’s current bias toward industry.