Civil rights groups have filed an ethics complaint against a Texas federal court judge after allegations that she made discriminatory remarks about racial minorities during a February speech.
The complaint filed against Edith Jones, a judge on the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court, claims that at a speech at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Jones said that “racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime.”
Jones also allegedly justified death sentences because they provide a public service by allowing inmates to “make peace with God.”
Those remarks violated the code of conduct for federal judges, according to the complaint, which was filed by a coalition including the Texas Civil Rights Project, Austin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program.
Although her comments were not recorded, five students and one attorney who were in attendance signed affidavits on what was said, the Associated Press reports.
Jones was nominated to the Fifth Circuit Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. She was considered a potential Supreme Court nominee during multiple Republican administrations, most recently after Harriet Miers withdrew her name from consideration in 2005 under President George W. Bush.
The group that hosted Jones’s speech released a response to their story on its Facebook page, calling it “one-sided reporting and frivolous accusations.”
“Rest assured the Federalist Society does not host or harbor racist speakers,” the statement continues. “We’re disappointed that constructive dialogue about federal habeas relief is being misrepresented like this.”
Legal ethicist James McCormack wrote in an affidavit that Jones’s speech violated many ethical provisions within the judicial code of conduct, including a duty to be impartial and to “avoid comment or behavior that could be interpreted as harassment, prejudice or bias,” The Austin Chronicle reported.