In one of the most stunning example of judicial conflict of interest we’ve seen in…well, ever…District Court Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner ruled this week that two Georgia counties cannot move forward with a plan to remove names from their voter rolls.
Why was this ruling such a travesty of justice? Not because of the merits of the case – which may or may not be sound – but because of who Judge Gardner is. Or more specifically, who she is related to. She’s the sister of Stacey Abrams, the woman who has dedicated her career to opening up the vote in Georgia ever since she lost the 2018 gubernatorial election to Brian Kemp.
According to Judge Gardner, the counties in question had improperly removed names because there was unverified change-of-address information on record. We’re not sure why this qualifies as “improper,” but we do know that this ruling would have gone down more smoothly if the judge had been literally anyone else.
The counties involved in the case tried, unsuccessfully, to get Gardner to recuse herself beforehand.
“Judge Gardner is the sister of Stacey Abrams, a Georgia politician and voting rights activist who was the Democratic candidate in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election and has since engaged in various highly-publicized efforts to increase voter registration and turnout for the 2020 general election in Georgia,” a motion from Muscogee County read.
“Abrams’ interest could therefore be substantially affected by the outcome of this proceeding,” the motion continued. “For this reason, Judge Gardner’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned were this case to proceed before her. The Muscogee County Defendants respectfully request that Judge Gardner recuse herself from further involvement in the present case.”
If there’s ever been a clearer demand for recusal in judicial history, we don’t recall hearing about it. Nonetheless, Gardner rejected the motion and remained on the case, subsequently ruling in exactly the way we would expect the sister of Stacey Abrams to rule.
On Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) expressed his shock and dismay over the decision.
“This is absurd. This is an obvious case for recusal. For Stacey Abrams’ sister to refuse to recuse — and issue this decision despite her indisputable bias — undermines the integrity of the entire judicial system,” he wrote.
Cruz may be outraged, but a cursory look around the internet shows us that all of those news outlets and pundits who were SO CONCERNED about Kemp’s role as Secretary of State in 2018 are not in the least bothered by this clear-cut conflict of interest.
How about that.