Federal Judge Richard Cebull excuses his email containing a racist joke about President Obama, sent from his official email account, because, he says, it wasn’t intended to become public. Here’s David Dayen of FDL:
For his part, Cebull admitted to sending the email, but tried to explain it away by saying that he keeps his racism private, the way it oughta be:
The judge acknowledged that the content of the email was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the email was intended to be a private communication.
“It was not intended by me in any way to become public,” Cebull said. “I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.” […]
“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.”
I have said many, many things that are “anti-Obama.” A few of them may even have been tasteless. But I have never found it necessary, not even once, to forward a tacky, dirty, race-baiting joke about the president’s mother.
Does Judge Cebull have a right to send that joke using his taxpayer-funded email? I don’t know; I’m not a legal expert, and I’m inclined to be flexible about minimal incidental personal use of business or even government email.
But I do think that a federal judge should not be sending such an email at all. A judge should be a model of probity in all aspects of his or her public life, and that joke disqualifies Cebull as such.
Judge Cebull should resign, and congressional GOP senators should cooperate with Obama in allowing the president to select a replacement. It’s the least they could do. (That’s why I’m betting against their doing it.)
UPDATE: Judge Cebull has asked for a judicial review of his action, and either intends to apologize to Obama or has already done so. No matter. He should still resign. As one commenter somewhere (?) said, he must either resign, or recuse himself from every case involving an African American.