Judging the judge

From an editorial in Tuesday’s Washington Post:

The Constitution says that federal judges “shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour” – for life, that is, unless they commit an impeachable offense. Which brings us to the allegations of domestic violence against Mark E. Fuller, a U.S. District Court judge in Montgomery, Ala.

On Aug. 9, first responders in Atlanta received a call from a woman who said her husband was “beating on me” in a hotel room. At the scene, they found the judge’s wife, Kelli Fuller, with cuts on her mouth and forehead.

Atlanta police jailed the judge on charges of misdemeanor battery; he posted $5,000 bail and eventually submitted to a pretrial diversion program.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has started an investigation, pursuant to a federal judicial ethics law, which could lead to a reprimand or, at most, a recommendation that he be referred to Congress for impeachment. Politicians from both parties have called for Fuller’s resignation, including the state’s two Republican U.S. senators.

The members of Congress, with their impeachment powers, could investigate and punish Fuller themselves. Impeachment for domestic violence would be unprecedented. However, it belongs on the list of offenses potentially serious enough to warrant disqualification from “any Office of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States.”

If the facts warrant it, Congress should not hesitate to proceed against Fuller.