Mary Ann Glendon’s Conflict of Interest?
Steve Bainbridge has an interesting post suggesting that Professor Mary Ann Glendon’s nomination to the Holy See raises a conflict of interest:
Now let’s be clear about something. I am a great admirer of Prof. Glendon. I had to good fortune to meet her back in 2000 and she was delightful. She’s also a brilliant scholar and a very significant public intellectual. She brings to the diplomatic table far more knowledge and expertise than many political appointees. Having said that, however, I’m a little troubled by the appointment.
Glendon was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1994 to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, a panel that advises the Roman Catholic church on social policy. Glendon has served as an adviser to the Vatican in several capacities. In 1995, she was the first woman to lead a delegation of the Holy See at the United Nations Women’s Conference in Beijing. She has also served on the Pontifical Council for the Laity and as a consultant to the Pontifical Council on the Family.
So we’re appointing as the United States’ representative to the Holy See someone who has served the Holy See as a diplomat and advisor. Doesn’t that seem like a conflict of interest?
Then he adds in a subsequent post:
It seems a bit odd to hire someone who has devoted much of her life to representing the interests of State A to be the ambassador of State B to A. Would we hire a lawyer who spent much of her professional life representing China in global trade negotiations to be our ambassador to China (recognizing that the cases are not on all fours)?
I’m not an expert on such matters but thought it worth highlighting with this audience. I personally don’t think there is a problem and I especially don’t think the China analogy works. The Vatican serves all Catholics throughout the world, and Glendon has both a religious loyalty and commitment to the Catholic Church and a national loyalty and commitment to the United States. Those loyalties may be on rare occasion inconsistent with one another, but far more commonly they would be complementary and mutually reenforcing. In any event, she can always recuse herself on specific issues as the need arises.
Does anyone have thoughts on this issue? Are there any historical analogies? Is there any legal guidance in relevant domestic or international law?