A little more than a year after a Washington watchdog group
criticized U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jane R.
Roth for her association with a controversial Montana-based
nonprofit, she has resigned her position with the organization's
A spokesman for the Foundation for Research on Economics
and the Environment (FREE) confirmed this week that Roth has
Roth, the widow of longtime Delaware U.S. Sen. Bill Roth,
could not be reached for comment.
Last year the Community Rights Counsel, a public interest
law firm, filed complaints against several judges, including
Roth, for their association with the foundation.
Doug Kendall, executive director of Community Rights, said
FREE is funded by the gas and oil industry and presents one-sided,
industry-friendly information to judges on $10,000 vacations.
Among seminars offered to judges who accepted the junkets:
"The Environment: A CEO's Perspective."
Kendall said the judges' association with the foundation
was not illegal, but it raised serious ethical concerns about
impartiality and undermined public trust in the judiciary.
Last year Roth defended her association with the foundation,
saying it produced well-balanced educational programs for
judges. "When Bill was alive, both he and I were members.
We are both greatly interested in the environment and in no
way did we feel this organization presents a biased view of
environmental or economic issues," Roth said in 2004.
The foundation describes itself as "an organization
devoted to social change that harmonizes environmental quality
with responsible liberty and economic progress."
Roth's resignation from the board follows similar resignations
by U.S. District Judge Andre Davis in Maryland and Chief Judge
Douglas Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington,
Kendall said only one judge, Chief Judge Danny Boggs of the
6th Circuit, remains on the foundation board.
In a statement, foundation chairman John A. Baden thanked
Judge Roth for her "many years of service."
A foundation spokesman said Roth did not submit a letter
of resignation, but informed the foundation verbally.
Kendall applauded Roth's decision to step aside, saying it
was proof "of our simple point that judges cannot sit
on the board of an organization that takes money from corporations
to influence the outcome of environmental cases."
Among the corporations that fund the foundation are ExxonMobil,
GE Fund, Maguire Oil Co. and Pfizer International.