Majority of Arkansas Ethics Panel Withdraws From Clinton Disbarment Ruling

By Bob Melvin | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - Eight of fourteen members of the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct recused themselves from making a decision that could strip President Clinton of his law license.

Only six members of the state ethics panel will hear the case after the majority of members said they'd rather not handle the matter. The eight members of the panel bowed out prior to Friday's scheduled meeting.

The panel may consider two requests that Clinton be disciplined for lying under oath in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. The committee did not say why any of the eight members recused themselves. Five of them had contributed to Clinton's presidential campaigns or to other Democratic Party candidates.

While the panel has 14 members, it meets in seven-member sessions. Alternates are taken from another pool of seven members as needed. Only four votes are needed to impose sanctions.

"It is heartening to know that Arkansas Committee members who have recused themselves for apparent or perceived political reasons are helping to maintain the integrity of this process," said Matthew Glavin, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation of Atlanta, which filed one of the two complaints.

The SLF and US District Judge Susan Webber Wright referred Clinton to the conduct committee, saying the president lied under oath in the Jones case by denying he had a sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Wright also cited Clinton for civil contempt last year and fined him $90,000 for giving "intentionally false" testimony.

Glavin said he wants Clinton disbarred for the lies and for obstructing justice. Wright has not publicly suggested a penalty.

Clinton seeks something no harsher than a letter of reprimand, according to Glavin.