The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

‘Conflict of Interestâ€TM May Undermine Wiretap Judgment

by Jessica Azulay

Aug. 23, 2006 – A new revelation of a judge’s philanthropic background may undermine the legitimacy of the already-controversial ruling by a federal judge that found the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional.

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In reviewing the financial disclosure forms of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, the political-accountability group Judicial Watch discovered that she sits on the board of a foundation that gave tens of thousands of dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. Last week, Diggs Taylor ruled in favor of the ACLU of Michigan in its case challenging the constitutionality of the NSA’s warrentless spying program.

The website of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan lists Diggs Taylor as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the group’s annual reports have listed her as Secretary since at least 2002, The NewStandard has found.

The site also lists two grants awarded to the ACLU of Michigan totaling $45,000. It is not clear from the document when the grants were made, but the executive director of the Michigan ACLU told the New York Times that her group received the grants in 2002. Kary Moss said the group has received $125,000 from the Foundation since 1999, though all grants were for projects unrelated to the wiretapping challenge.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told TNS the revelations mean "more questions need to be asked" because "in virtue of her work with the Community Foundation," it seems Diggs Taylor is a supporter of the plaintiff in the case. He said in cases like this, it is largely left up to judges to disclose anything that could constitute the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Judicial Watch, a conservative nonprofit organization, has been instrumental in providing public access to the financial disclosure forms of all federal judges. The group has created a searchable database of the forms, which can be accessed through its website. Judicial Watch is also the group that compelled the release of Secret Service logs detailing when disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff visited the White House.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.


Jessica Azulay is a staff journalist.

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