How Larry Klayman undermines the right's central attack on Sotomayor

How Larry Klayman undermines the right's central attack on Sotomayor

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

On Thursday, David Corn explained just how unexpected Larry Klayman's endorsement of Sonia Sotomayor is. Corn did a nice job of listing Klayman's ... uh ... eccentricities.

But there's one thing he missed, and it's a rather interesting bit of the Klayman biography in light of frequent suggestions by media figures that Sotomayor might not be able to rule objectively because of her Puerto Rican heritage.

As Corn noted, Klayman has blamed his bad press on a cabal of Jewish journalists (including Corn) that he thought were out to get him because "as a Jew who believes in Christ" he was "a threat to the liberal Jewish creed, a kosher Uncle Tom."

And (here's the new part) Larry Klayman was once barred from practicing law in New York City after he suggested that an Asian-American judge was unable to rule impartially because of his race.

Klayman, in other words, is prone to thinking that minorities cannot be objective because of their backgrounds. His endorsement of Sotomayor, then, should throw some cold water on the claims by (mostly right-wing) media that because of her background, Sotomayor may be incapable of objectivity.

Here's a 1998 Asian Week article about Klayman's allegations:

An appeals court in New York last month upheld a decision by a Chinese American judge to sanction attorney who accused him of ruling against them because of his race.

...

[Judge Denny] Chin had dismissed a suit filed in 1991 by McDraw Inc., an importer and distributor of wire-drawing equipment, against CIT Group Equipment Financing Inc. alleging contract and fraud charges. A judge who had been assigned the case earlier had also come to similar conclusions about the merits of the claim.

In response, the lawyers in the case, Larry Klayman and Paul Orfanedes of Washington, D.C., filed briefs challenging Chin's impartiality.

Klayman has been one of the leading figures in pursuing allegations of corruption within the White House. As chair of the conservative legal rights group Judicial Watch, Klayman was part of an investigation on John Huang, the former Democratic Party fund raiser who may have raised money from foreign sources.

After his litigation defeat, Klayman sent a letter to Chin demanding to know whether the judge had "any business, political, or personal dealings" with Huang. To support his speculation that Chin was somehow connected to Huang, Klayman found an AsianWeek article mentioning a half-dozen individuals appointed to various posts by President Clinton. Among those individuals were Chin and Huang.

In filing his briefs and referring to Huang, Klayman may have been engaged in zealous advocacy. In a courtroom colloquy, however, he made it much more clear that he was accusing Chin of wrongdoing because of his racial heritage.

Chin asked Klayman, "You asked questions of the court, at least in part, because of my race?"

Klayman replied, "In part. And let me tell you why ... We are all human, and sometimes, sometimes subjective criteria can unwittingly, no matter how ethical, no matter how decent, no matter how honest someone is--and we believe you to be that--they can subjectively influence our decision-making."

Klayman continued, "Your Honor has to search his own soul to a large extent."

At that point, Chin ended the proceedings. He sanctioned Klayman, giving him a relatively light penalty. Klayman, who is a lawyer in Washington, will not be permitted the privilege of practicing in New York City.

In affirming the decision by Judge Chin, the appeals court said that the "charge that the judge is racially or ethnically biased" is serious, because it is a charge of violating "the oath of office."

The appeals court said that such a charge "should not be made without a factual foundation going well beyond the judge's membership in a particular racial or ethnic group." It added that Klayman's conduct was "insulting and smacked of intimidation."

...

The appeals court also noted with respect to the AsianWeek article that, "The article did not suggest any connection between the two [Chin and Huang], other than their having been appointed by the same administration and their being Asian American."

...

Ironically, Klayman also was sanctioned a few years ago in the California courts. He had accused a federal judge of being anti-Semitic toward him and anti-Asian toward his a client, a Taiwanese national. The court found no basis for his accusation.

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