Commentary: "Judge, Sit Down"

Montana Judge Richard Cebull, who forwarded a racist letter about President Obama, needs to trade in his gavel for a muzzle.

Am I the only one who wishes this whole Montana judge fiasco would just go away? After admitting he was in fact the one who forwarded a racially insulting joke about President Obama to friends, Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull is back in the headlines again — this time for a letter he says he actually did write. It’s a letter of apology to Obama and his family, in which he accepts full responsibility for the matter. 


“I sincerely and profusely apologize to you and your family for the email I forwarded. I accept full responsibility; I have no one to blame but myself,” Cebull wrote in a letter dated March 1. "I can assure you that such action on my part will never happen again. Honestly, I don't know what else I can do. Please forgive me, and again my most sincere apology."


I can just imagine the president and first lady reading the letter, completely oblivious to the scandal or the judge responsible for it. I can see the president saying, “Who’s this guy again?” as Michelle Obama dismissively shrugs her shoulders. I’m sure that their hearts were not warmed by the gesture. It was just a reminder of how difficult it is to root out racist beliefs in an ever-evolving society. 


If a judge who has spent years learning about fairness, jurisprudence and propriety can harbor such views, it’s not a stretch to think that there must be judges, bankers, teachers, police officers, lawmakers and other influential people whose decisions may be tainted by racist leanings.  


And, to make matters worse, Cebull is now throwing himself on the mercy of the court, by initiating a process to launch a full-scale probe into the drama.


Your Honor, where is the honor in that? The damage to your reputation and lack of decorum is irreparable and undeniable. It is deeply alarming that someone with a lifetime appointment to be fair and impartial would deem it appropriate to espouse racist ideology from his work email. 


So, even before Cebull’s self-imposed judicial conduct review gets started, I’ve made a few conclusions of my own. He may have “judge” in his title, but his actions prove he has no sound judgment at all.  


The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.


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(Photos: AP Photo/Billings Gazette, James Woodcock; Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

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