Judge Should Step Down Over Racist Email, Says Watchdog Group

The liberal-leaning government watchdog group Common Cause is calling for Montana Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush nominee, to step down because he sent a racist “joke” email implying President Barack Obama’s mother had sex with a canine.

“If he has any respect for his office and for ideals of equality and human dignity on which our country was founded, Judge Cebull will step down today,” Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, said in a statement. “The message he has acknowledged circulating demonstrates a lack of judicial temperament that ought to disqualify him from further service.”

Edgar pointed to canon two of the Code of Conduct for federal judges, which says they should “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary” as well as canon five, which calls on judges to refrain from political activity.

An email sent from Cebull’s official court email address relays what Cebull later acknowledged was a racist joke about a little boy asking his mother why he was black and she was white. “Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!” Cebull’s email read.

“When Judge Cebull circulated this message, he expressed hope to recipients that it ‘touches your heart like it did mine,'” Edgar said in the statement. “Now he wants us to believe he was motivated by his political disagreements with the President. In either case, in expressing such sentiments he has demonstrated his unfitness for the bench.”

Cebull did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for an interview on Thursday.