It's not too unusual these days to call for clarity in recusal standards (unless you think that's an impossible task), but Joel Cohen and Katherine Helm in The BP Mess: Judging the Judges' Impartiality, at law.com ask the tougher question:
[I]s it not a little cavalier to advocate for the disqualification of judges who upheld the lifting of the moratorium based on the clients those judges previously represented in private practice? Moreover, and without taking sides on the merits of the district judge's unpopular decision given the outcry over the Gulf calamity, isn't it wrong for men-in-the-street to excoriate the judge and challenge his integrity based on a supposed conflict because he has issued an unpopular decision? What sort of practice do we engage in when we posit that prior legal representations standing alone constitute improper influences on judicial decision-making?
This is no less wrong than when some of the right-wing press pilloried the Justice Department attorneys who had provided pro bono representation of Guantanamo detainees while in their prior private practice. How can we possibly propose to judge judges based on the nature of the clientele -- not even based on the specific clients -- they represented before coming on the bench? Particularly so, when the cited representations were decades earlier: Here, the circuit judges' representations of oil and gas industry clients were between 25 and 40 years ago.
A call for representation to be out-of-bounds as a judicial disqualification factor, of course, still leaves the question of the possible conflict of interest raised by judges' stock portfolios and investments. See Judicial Ethics + Energy Stock Ownership = Stalemate? and Energy Industry Investments of Judge Who Stayed the Gulf Drilling Ban Draw Comment