Judge Nicholas Garaufis, the Clinton appointee who issued a preliminary order today blocking President Trump’s plan to phase out DACA, has a history of letting his personal beliefs impair his ability as an impartial jurist, a pattern that once prompted a higher court to remove him from a prominent discrimination trial involving the New York City Fire Department.
Just a few years ago, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals removed Judge Garaufis from a racial discrimination case against the NYFD, after Garaufis called the Department “a stubborn bastion of white male privilege,” thereby revealing his own bias in favor of the plaintiffs. Predictably, Garaufis’ remark raised all sorts of ethics questions, and the city argued he should be removed from the entire case.
A panel of three Second Circuit judges ruled that this comment – in addition to Garaufis’ other harsh, unnecessarily personal criticisms of city leaders throughout the case – had become such an issue that he could no longer be trusted to preside fairly over the lawsuit’s intentional discrimination claim trial.
The panel’s opinion, authored by Judge Jon Newman, argued that even if Garaufis’ personal beliefs were not going to cloud his judgment and handling of the trial, his comments were inflammatory enough that “an objective observer would have a reasonable basis to question the judge’s impartiality.” The trial was subsequently reassigned.
Garaufis, who has sat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York since Bill Clinton appointed him to it in 2000, has previously made similarly slanted comments about President Obama’s constitutionally dubious Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive amnesty program.
For instance, in September, Garaufis called the Trump Administration’s decision to not extend the deadline for DACA applications “heartless,” and chided the government’s lawyers by sarcastically declaring “I’m just glad I was born in Paterson, N.J., not Mexico City,” according to The New York Times.
Stay tuned for more.
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