Judge Who Went on Israel Junket Recuses Himself From Gaza Case

Judge Ryan Nelson of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed on Thursday to recuse himself from a case challenging the Biden administration’s Gaza policy. As The Intercept reported, Nelson in March was part of a judicial delegation to Israel, which was sponsored by the World Jewish Congress.

Judge Who Went on Israel Junket Recuses Himself From Gaza Case 1


A Federal Judge Visited Israel on a Junket Designed to Sway Public Opinion. Now He’s Hearing a Gaza Case.

The plaintiffs — a mix of Palestinian human rights organizations, Palestinian nationals, and Palestinian Americans — claimed the trip’s ideological framing made it improper for Nelson to participate in the case. Oral argument is scheduled for June 10, and plaintiffs filed an emergency recusal motion on Tuesday.

“Appellants have moved to disqualify me from participation in this case based on my attendance at a judicial education conference in Israel in March,” Nelson wrote in a brief order. He disputed the merit of plaintiffs’ allegations of potential impartiality.

“They cite no comments I have made about any issues related to this case. Thus, it is far from certain that an objective observer would reasonably question my impartiality,” he wrote. “That said, out of an abundance of caution, the best course in this specific case (which may not apply in other cases) is to recuse.”

“This case against top U.S. officials for aiding and abetting Israel’s genocide raises issues of utmost importance,” said Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the plaintiffs, “and the appearance of fairness is paramount given the stakes.”

Update: June 6, 2024, 3:44 p.m. ET
The story has been updated to include a comment from the Center for Constitutional Rights that was received after publication.

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