Much as we might like for people to be completely and totally unbiased, that’s never really going to happen. People have opinions on various things, and we live in a country where people are still free to voice those opinions, even on topics like gun control and Black Lives Matter.
Apparently, unless you’re a superior court judge in Los Angeles. Then, you’re not supposed to have any opinions on anything.
At least, that’s the takeaway from the news of such a judge being reprimanded by a “watchdog” group.
A state watchdog agency reprimanded a Los Angeles County judge on Tuesday for making online postings that appeared to support positions on gun control, Black Lives Matter and the recall of the county’s top prosecutor.
Superior Court Judge Michael O’Gara’s comments on Facebook and Twitter “gave the appearance of bias,” the Commission on Judicial Performance said.
In its admonishment, the judicial commission said last December, O’Gara joined a Facebook group that favored recalling Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón three days after the former San Francisco prosecutor took office. The recall effort is still in the signature-gathering stage.
O’Gara posted a comment that said Gascón was violating state law by refusing to seek sentence increases and called judges who opposed the DA’s directives “heroes,” according to the judicial commission.
O’Gara also appeared to take a position against gun control in a 2016 tweet and issued Facebook “likes” of postings by a commentator who denounced Black Lives Matter activists and by former San Francisco Giants player Aubrey Huff.
You know, I can’t imagine this would have been a problem if he’s liked a tweet from David Hogg or Shannon Watts or liked pro-BLM Facebook posts.
Now, showing support for the recall of Gascón could be problematic. After all, Gascón’s office prosecutes cases in O’Gara’s court and the judge showing public antagonism to Gascón would create issues. Had the reprimand stopped there, I probably wouldn’t have paid attention.
But it didn’t.
Instead, it decided that O’Gara’s position on gun rights and Black Lives Matter was “controversial” and somehow inappropriate. Yet that’s essentially arguing that O’Gara has no freedom of speech with regard to his office. Even the military–where people do have their rights limited–have the right to like things on Twitter or Facebook as they see fit.
O’Gara, however, doesn’t.
Had he taken positions in favor of gun control and other left-leaning issues, it’s unlikely anything would have been said. After all, the judicial group argued that O’Gara, “posted undignified, indecorous remarks in response to public figures, and appeared to espouse partisan and controversial viewpoints.” However, we’ve seen plenty of judges come out in support of gun control and in favor of Black Lives Matter as many in California consider those views uncontroversial.
Oh, they’re partisan, but since they’re the right kind of partisan, they get to slide.
Again, being part of a group trying to recall Gascón is a problem because of his position, but the others? He’s an American with a right to say what he wishes. He also has a right to like what he wishes on social media, for crying out loud.
Even if it were a problem to take strong, public positions on these issues, he didn’t. O’Gara didn’t issue statements calling for Gascón’s recall or an end to gun control. He didn’t issue a statement denouncing Black Lives Matter. He liked some stuff on social media and he joined a Facebook group.
Then again, in the days of cancel culture, that’s more than enough, isn’t it?