Recusal and the Supreme Court

51 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2004


From Laird v. Tatum to Bush v. Gore, the refusal of some Supreme Court Justices to recuse themselves in controversial cases has caused reactions ranging from confusion to disgust. The latest "duck hunting" recusal controversy, and the Court's seemingly callous response to the public outcry, seemed to suggest a deliberate indifference to the recusal standard. This Article examines the recusal provisions applicable to the Supreme Court. Although there is little doubt that Congress drafted the federal recusal statute broadly, interesting questions surround recusal in the Supreme Court due to the unique position the Court holds, which raises potential separation of powers and enforcement issues. The Article concludes that rather than an insistence upon actual recusal, a more valuable approach at the Supreme Court level might involve the institution of additional disclosures, in the form of "statements of interest" accompanying participation.

Suggested Citation

Bassett, Debra Lyn, Recusal and the Supreme Court. Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 56, p. 657, 2005, FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 162, UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 51, U of Alabama Public Law Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

Debra Lyn Bassett (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School ( email )

3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

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