- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009

More ethics claims

The Associated Press claims that outgoing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be found guilty of violating her state’s ethics rules, citing a report leaked from the State Personnel Board on one of the 19 ethics complaints filed against her.

The governor may be counting down her final days in office, but she isn’t letting the accusations go unanswered. She’s even threatening to take some legal action of her own against the leakers.

According to the AP, the board will say she improperly used her public image to raise money for the legal defense fund created to fend off complaints made against her as an elected official. No punishment is expected for violating the rules; the board will only recommend that Mrs. Palin not take direct payments from the fund.

Mrs. Palin issued a lengthy statement late Tuesday saying the fund “was the hallmark of legal compliance and prudent conduct.”

“I find the notion that I have taken any action pertaining to the legal defense trust fund misguided and factually in error,” she said. “I am informed that this fund was created by experienced attorneys in D.C. and was modeled after other similar funds established for senators and others.”

Mrs. Palin’s private attorney Thomas Van Flein said it’s too early for the AP to judge the outcome of the investigation.

“Whatever you have seen was released in violation of law,” he said. “There has been no board finding of an ethics violation and there is a detailed legal process to follow before there is a final resolution.”

Mrs. Palin may turn the tables on the leakers in the future, too.

“All options are open in terms of legal remedies,” Mr. Van Flein said.

Foreign law

Although Judge Sonia Sotomayor promised during her confirmation hearings for her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court not to use foreign laws in her decision-making, she indicated in a follow-up to Republican questioning that they were permissible to use for intellectual inspiration

Judge Sotomayor returned a 49-page questionnaire to the Senate Judicial Committee to respond to written inquiries from Republican senators on the panel. Many of the questions asked her to elaborate on the proper uses of foreign laws in American courts.

“In limited circumstances, decisions of foreign courts can be sources of ideas, just as law review articles or treatises can be sources of ideas,” she said. “Reading the decisions of foreign courts for ideas, however, does not constitute ‘using’ those decisions to decide cases.”

In another response she mentioned the impact a refusal to consider foreign laws could have diplomatically.

“To the extent that American courts categorically refuse to consider the ideas expressed in the decisions of foreign courts, it may be that foreign courts will be less likely to look to American law as a source of ideas,” she wrote.

Judge Sotomayor, however, was careful to caution against consulting foreign law “merely to improve the United States’ influence in the world.”

Bonus round

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and an advocate of greater media coverage for court proceedings, wanted to know how Judge Sonia Sotomayor felt about allowing TV cameras into the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently prohibited.

It looks like Mr. Grassley will get be getting an ally on the bench.

“I have had limited experience with televising court proceedings as a district court judge, but not as a court of appeals judge,” she replied. “My experience has been positive, and I intend to relay that experience to the justices on the Supreme Court in future conversations on this issue if I am confirmed.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washington times.com.

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