A federal judge who recently struck a deal with Georgia state officials to avoid charges for allegedly hitting his wife may not escape from the incident with his job. Although the United States Congress is barely able to function long enough to keep the government operating or ward off a catastrophic debt default, the proposition that men arrested on domestic violence charges should not be federal judges appears to be one of the few things both parties can agree upon.
Judge Mark Fuller is a Republican judge from Alabama who was arrested last month on misdemeanor battery charges at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta. Yet both of Alabama’s Republican senators have now called upon him to resign. They are joined by a pair of congresswomen, one Democrat and one Republican, who have both suggested impeachment as a solution to remove Fuller from the bench.
In a statement released Monday, Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) said that “Judge Fuller has violated the public trust and should resign.” Significantly, she added that “the Constitution gives Congress the authority to impeach members of the judiciary branch for misconduct,” and that she “will not hesitate in joining my colleagues to institute such proceedings if warranted.”
Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) offered similar comments, also noting that “the Constitution empowers Congress to impeach members of the Judicial Branch for misconduct,” though she also said that she wants to allow the federal judiciary’s internal investigatory process to move forward before she commits to impeachment.
Although Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) are being somewhat more reserved on the question of whether Congress should remove Fuller from office, both men also called for the judge to resign. Sessions says that Fuller “can no longer effectively serve in his position and should step down,” while Shelby says that “Judge Mark Fuller has lost the confidence of his colleagues and the people of the state of Alabama.”
Impeachments of federal judges are exceedingly rare. It’s happened only 15 times in American history, and only 8 of these judges were actually removed from office upon conviction by the Senate, although a few resigned after they were impeached by the House. For the moment, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has stripped Fuller of his judicial duties, although he will continue to draw his judicial salary unless he resigns or is impeached and convicted.