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Federal Judge Explains Racist Obama Email By Saying It Wasn’t Meant to Be Public

The federal judge in Montana who forwarded a racist email about the President must resign according to the national progressive group Common Cause. But the judge has an excuse: nobody was actually supposed to see the email except for the recipients.

Josh Glastetter at Right Wing Watch tracked down the racist email, reprinted above, that federal Judge Richard Cebull sent from his official email account. The email, entitled “A Mom’s Memory,” includes this exchange:

A little boy said to his mother,
“Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?”
His mother replied, “Don’t even go there, Barack!
From what I can remember about that party,
You’re lucky you don’t bark!”

This sparked the demand for Judge Cebull’s resignation from Common Cause.

“If he has any respect for his office and for ideals of equality and human dignity on which our country was founded, Judge Cebull will step down today,” Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, said in a statement. “The message he has acknowledged circulating demonstrates a lack of judicial temperament that ought to disqualify him from further service.”

Edgar pointed to canon two of the Code of Conduct for federal judges, which says they should “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary” as well as canon five, which calls on judges to refrain from political activity.

People for the American Way joined the call for resignation. A spokesman for Montana Sen. Jon Tester added that the Senator was “concerned by the situation because it calls into question the lack of judgment by a federal judge.”

For his part, Cebull admitted to sending the email, but tried to explain it away by saying that he keeps his racism private, the way it oughta be:

The judge acknowledged that the content of the email was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the email was intended to be a private communication.

It was not intended by me in any way to become public,” Cebull said. “I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.” […]

“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.”

This “My racism isn’t public” alibi is a new one in the annals of racism. And interestingly, he thinks that email that doesn’t get sent to anyone with an email account shouldn’t be held against him. When he wants to make a real statement to the world, presumably, we’ll get the message.

Cebull was a George W. Bush appointee confirmed in 2001.

…according to a statement weirdly routed through Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg (who is challenging Tester in the Senate this year), Cebull will personally apologize to the President and ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the incident. I don’t know what the review could be, other than confirming that Cebull sent a racist email.

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Federal Judge Explains Racist Obama Email By Saying It Wasn’t Meant to Be Public

The federal judge in Montana who forwarded a racist email about the President must resign according to the national progressive group Common Cause. But the judge has an excuse: nobody was actually supposed to see the email except for the recipients.

Josh Glastetter at Right Wing Watch tracked down the racist email, reprinted above, that federal Judge Richard Cebull sent from his official email account. The email, entitled “A Mom’s Memory,” includes this exchange:

A little boy said to his mother,
“Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?”
His mother replied, “Don’t even go there, Barack!
From what I can remember about that party,
You’re lucky you don’t bark!”

This sparked the demand for Judge Cebull’s resignation from Common Cause.

“If he has any respect for his office and for ideals of equality and human dignity on which our country was founded, Judge Cebull will step down today,” Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, said in a statement. “The message he has acknowledged circulating demonstrates a lack of judicial temperament that ought to disqualify him from further service.”

Edgar pointed to canon two of the Code of Conduct for federal judges, which says they should “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary” as well as canon five, which calls on judges to refrain from political activity.

People for the American Way joined the call for resignation. A spokesman for Montana Sen. Jon Tester added that the Senator was “concerned by the situation because it calls into question the lack of judgment by a federal judge.”

For his part, Cebull admitted to sending the email, but tried to explain it away by saying that he keeps his racism private, the way it oughta be:

The judge acknowledged that the content of the email was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the email was intended to be a private communication.

It was not intended by me in any way to become public,” Cebull said. “I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.” […]

“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.”

This “My racism isn’t public” alibi is a new one in the annals of racism. And interestingly, he thinks that email that doesn’t get sent to anyone with an email account shouldn’t be held against him. When he wants to make a real statement to the world, presumably, we’ll get the message.

Cebull was a George W. Bush appointee confirmed in 2001.

…according to a statement weirdly routed through Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg (who is challenging Tester in the Senate this year), Cebull will personally apologize to the President and ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the incident. I don’t know what the review could be, other than confirming that Cebull sent a racist email.

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David Dayen

David Dayen