Recuses, Recuses

Recuses, Recuses

I find the word “recuse” poignant. It seems weighty, official–perspicacious rather than apologetic. “Excuse me” sounds as if there is something to be pardoned, even if that is not necessarily so. A little like pleading the Fifth Amendment. But if I am asked to perform a task of consequence and I “recuse myself” because there might be a conflict of interest or the appearance of one, then I am an exceedingly responsible citizen.

Judges sometimes recuse themselves to avoid the slightest suspicion of partiality, as viewers of television’s myriad court programs know. And jurors are often disqualified if something in their lives might elicit bias in their determinations. “The plaintiff is suing a hospital. Have you any doctors or nurses in your family?”

The idea behind all this is to eliminate prejudices, conscious or subliminal, when it comes to justice. Who could be against that? Consequently, I think that the word “recuse” should loom large in discussions of congressional action against the president, and not (apologies to Jesse Jackson) because it rhymes with other words germane to the scandal—abuse, accuse, confuse.