Our quintessential oil-soaked judge, Judge Martin Feldman - New Orleans - ruled against Obama's deepwater drilling moratorium on June 1, 2010. Why did he issue such a broad injunction ?Some Senators now want to find out, and have requested further investigation in a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Yesterday, Chairman Leahy was requested by six Senators to investigate Judge Feldman.
Signatories of the letter are Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
The Senators' letter asks: Did Judge Feldman have financial relations with those shares??
Judge Feldman, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, showed a high level of support for offshore drilling in his decision, suggesting that oil and gas drilling was "simply elemental" to Gulf communities. We are concerned, however, that his ruling may have been influenced by his extensive stock holdings in energy and oil companies that would be financially impacted by the moratorium.
Did Judge Feldman attempt a last minute cover-up?
"Judge Feldman also sold his stock in Exxon Mobil just hours before ruling on the moratorium, an action that seems to indicate he recognized the potential conflicts his financial holdings posed – yet he still did not step away from this case...,"
Judge Feldman still ownsTransocean, Halliburton, and stock in BP's biggest US shareholders, JP Morgan and BlackRock.
The full letter can be read here.
And, the Senators' letter concludes by asking the question: Is the whole "oil belt" judiciary nothing more than an oil-soaked rubber stamp?
"Thirty-seven of the 64 active or senior judges in key Gulf Coast districts in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida have links to oil, gas and related energy industries, including some who own stocks or bonds in BP PLC, Halliburton or Transocean — and others who regularly list receiving royalties from oil and gas production wells, according to the reports judges must file each year."......While the toll of devastation on the Gulf’s wildlife, communities and businesses has yet to be calculated, the country cannot afford to allow the validity of any court rulings to be cast in doubt because of the personal financial interests of judges involved in legal proceedings related to this disaster.
Leahy and the Judiciary Committee need to get to the bottom of the biased justice system in the Gulf states.