The Florida Supreme Court is hearing a case that challenges the state’s 15-week abortion ban, even though one justice may have a conflict of interest. One expert said nothing requires Justice Charles Canady to remove himself from the case, but ethically, the situation doesn’t look great.
Justice Canady’s wife is Representative Jennifer Canady, who was one of the primary sponsors of Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act. It became law in April and bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
The fate of this recent law depends on how the Supreme Court rules on the ongoing abortion case.
Bob Jarvis is a law professor at Nova Southeastern University. He said Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct states that a judge can’t allow relationships to influence their opinion.
Jarvis doesn’t believe Justice Canady has an actual conflict of interest with the abortion case. But if he did remove himself from the case, Jarvis said the justice would eliminate concerns that his decision is biased.
“If he really wants this decision to have integrity,” Jarvis said, “you would think that he would have recused himself from day one.”
Jarvis said Justice Canady likely isn’t removing himself from the case, despite criticism, because he wants his name on the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I think that after working for so long on anti-abortion issues, that the idea that at the moment when it’s going to happen, he won’t be there — it’s just something that he cannot abide,” Jarvis said.
Even if Justice Canady were to remove himself from the case, Jarvis said it wouldn’t make a difference. He said Florida’s mostly conservative Supreme Court makes it inevitable that they’ll rule in favor of the new anti-abortion laws.
The public information office director for the Florida Supreme Court said he and Justice Canady are unable to comment on, or discuss, active cases.