Anti-Choice Arizona Justice Recuses Himself
News comes after viral Abortion, Every Day story
I couldn’t wait to bring you this news: The Arizona Mirror reports that Arizona Supreme Court Justice Bill Montgomery—an avid anti-choice activist—has agreed to recuse himself from the case on the state’s abortion ban. This is a huge win.
Montgomery was all set to decide the future of abortion rights in Arizona even though he had protested in front of Planned Parenthood, and wrote on Facebook that Planned Parenthood was responsible for “the greatest generational genocide known to man.”
Montgomery’s decision to recuse himself comes just a few days after an Abortion, Every Day story about the justice went viral: In an order outlining why he would not recuse himself, Montgomery admitted that he directed a previously-undisclosed investigation into Planned Parenthood Arizona while he was the Maricopa County Attorney. After building cleaners turned over what they believed were patient records from the organization, Montgomery didn’t return the boxes of records back to Planned Parenthood—but sent them to a law firm to determine whether they proved any criminal wrongdoing that his office could pursue.
In short: he decided to hand over what he believed were patient medical records to be investigated for criminal activity, having zero reason to do so.
As law professor David Cohen told me, “That he was immediately so suspicious shows serious bias, as opposed to protection of patient confidentiality.” After all, if the records were from any other type of medical office, chances are Montgomery would have returned them. “But because it was Planned Parenthood, he immediately thinks it’s something suspicious.”
In addition to this bizarre admission, Montgomery also claimed in his order that he wasn’t biased because his Facebook comments about genocide weren’t made about Planned Parenthood Arizona specifically. (As if there was a difference between accusing the national Planned Parenthood of genocide and accusing the state affiliate.)
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Arizona spokesperson Kelley Dupps welcomed the news of Montgomery’s recusal and said, “We believe that all litigants in Arizona are entitled to have their cases heard by judges who are not biased against them.”
It’s not clear why Montgomery changed his mind; the Arizona Mirror reports that the Justice said “additional information” about parties involved in the case had come to light, but declined to offer any more context.
Just going to leave you with this: Abortion, Every Day’s reporting on Montgomery was viewed here and on social media by nearly 700,000 people.