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Scalia Was Cheney Hunt Trip Guest; Ethics Concern Grows
February 6, 2004 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Scalia Was Cheney Hunt Trip Guest; Ethics Concern Grows Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia traveled as an official guest of Vice President Dick Cheney on a small government jet that served as Air Force Two when the pair came here last month to hunt ducks. The revelation cast further doubts about whether Scalia can be an impartial judge in Cheney's upcoming case before the Supreme Court, legal ethics experts said. The hunting trip took place just weeks after the high court agreed to take up Cheney's bid to keep secret the details of his energy policy task force.
posted by GernBlandston (41 comments total)

 
While on the surface this looks as conflicted as hell, and might be, it presents a unique problem. Since Supreme Court justices are equal to each other, and the Court as a whole is equal to the Legislative and Executive Branches, who can justices hang out with?

Remember, they have lifetime appointments, so having their investments put in trust, like lots of political officials, is out. "Lifetime" also means that they are supposedly *beyond* political pressure or influence; which is hooey, of course, but at least hopefully reduces it. They can only be removed from office if impeached and convicted, voluntarily retire or die.

So you end up with a weird "holistic" approach to justices. That being that they are labeled as either "liberal" or "conservative" based on their voting record, and everybody is on edge when they socialize with someone who is like minded--OR is dealing with issues special to the "other" side.

The bottom line is I don't think anything can come of this. There just doesn't seem to be much anybody can do about it.
posted by kablam at 10:21 AM on February 6, 2004


Any one read the story about Cheney's canned hunts? sick shit.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 10:31 AM on February 6, 2004


kablam, I weep for Scalia not having anyone to hang out with, but the situation really isn't all that complicated:

  • Don't go duck-hunting with someone who has a case coming up before the Supreme Court
  • If you have an overwhelming need to go duck-hunting with someone who has a case coming up before the Supreme Court, recuse yourself from the case.

    Simple. Very simple.

  • posted by soyjoy at 10:34 AM on February 6, 2004


    "Any justice, judge, or magistrate [magistrate judge] of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." 28 U.S.C. 455.
    posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:44 AM on February 6, 2004


    This administration will go down in history as the most corrupt, dishonest and duplicitous in American history.

    "History will show", as the Bushies are fond of saying, that Bush & Co ran this country like a business. Namely - Enron.
    posted by y6y6y6 at 10:51 AM on February 6, 2004


    Any one read the story about Cheney's canned hunts? sick shit.

    One ponders the kind of life Cheney must have led, to enjoy such "sport".
    posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:51 AM on February 6, 2004


    Sick sick sick!
    posted by Witty at 11:03 AM on February 6, 2004


    kablam- This isn't really a nuanced issue. It's not like they hung out one night over cigars and cocktails. Take the transportation issue out of the picture for a moment- Cheney brought Scalia as his guest to a private hunting ground owned by an oil baron shortly before Scalia was due to hear a case on Cheney's energy industry conflict-of-interest. IANAL, but the rules of recusal seem to apply here in a very cut-and-dry fashion.
    posted by mkultra at 11:07 AM on February 6, 2004


    Just when you think it can't possibly get any more egregious...over and over.
    posted by gottabefunky at 11:12 AM on February 6, 2004


    Hey, it's simple. Scalia appoints Bush and Cheney to be president, Cheney takes Scalia out hunting, Scalia absolves Cheney of any responsibility in disclosing energy policy formation. All one happy family!
    posted by Nelson at 11:19 AM on February 6, 2004


    Monju,

    Where did you obtain that quote?

    I'm asking because I'm not certain the "reasonably" word is in there.
    posted by nofundy at 11:23 AM on February 6, 2004


    Never mind.
    I looked it up and its there.
    I just "misremembered" the line.
    But after reading the rest of 28 U.S.C. 455 it appears the clear intent of the law would require Scalia to recuse himself.
    Not that he would or anything.
    Welcome to the next Chief InJustice of the Extreme Court folks! Fundie and proud of it!
    posted by nofundy at 11:28 AM on February 6, 2004


    What's weird about Cheney is that he doesn't seem to even remotely care about appearances. It's one thing to be corrupt and dishonest; another thing entirely not to care who knows.
    posted by callmejay at 11:34 AM on February 6, 2004


    Yawn....
    posted by Durwood at 11:34 AM on February 6, 2004


    Sick sick sick ?


    Sick sick sick?


    Sick sick sick?


    posted by matteo at 11:37 AM on February 6, 2004


    Scalia's not a Fundie, he's a Catholic.
    I can't figure him out. By all accounts, he's incredibly smart. And for the most part, I think he tries to decide cases in a way that's consistent with his view of the Constitution, regardless of who's in front of him. (Though his interpretation may be, uh, slightly different from those held by some of the other judges...)
    But the damage he does to himself and to the integrity of the court seems immense -- when politicization of the judiciary is such a contentious issue, why try so hard to create the perception of more?
    posted by tingley at 11:38 AM on February 6, 2004


    callmejay, to figure out why cheney doesn't care about appearances, please see the post immediately below yours.
    posted by lord_wolf at 11:46 AM on February 6, 2004


    Durwood, you need to keep your cat away from the computer if it's just going to jump on the keyboard and randomly type stuff while you're away getting a sandwich. Cool how it hit the period three times in a row though.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:47 AM on February 6, 2004


    The points that bother me about this case:

    1) That the taxpayers footed the bill for Dick and Tony to go on their buddy outing.

    2) That Chief Justice Rehnquist said something as stupid as:

    "A Justice must examine the question of recusal on his own even without a motion, and any party to a case may file a motion to recuse. And anyone at all is free to criticize the action of a Justice -- as to recusal or as to the merits -- after the case has been decided. But I think that any suggestion by [Senators Waxman and Liberman]. . . as to why a Justice should recuse himself in a pending case is ill considered."

    Considering that rulings by the SCOTUS are irreversible, it is rather silly to tell someone the equivalent of "We'll look into whether he is innocent or guilty after we're done hanging him."

    This is disgusting. President Clinton gets ripped a new one for getting a hair cut on AF1, but the VP of the United States can give a Supreme Court justice a vacation when said justice is going to rule on a case the Vice President is a defendant in?

    I'm going to be ill.
    posted by terrapin at 12:13 PM on February 6, 2004


    Scalia's not a Fundie, he's a Catholic.

    Catholics can be fundies too.
    As can Hindus, Muslims, any backward facing religionist.
    And Scalia is one of the worst sort of Catholics with his brand of fundamentalism. I wonder if he's Opus Dei?
    posted by nofundy at 12:19 PM on February 6, 2004


    OT:"President Bush named former Senator and Governor Charles Robb of Virginia and senior federal Judge Laurence H. Silberman today to be co-chairmen of an independent, bipartisan commission to examine American intelligence-gathering."

    "Members of the commission will issue their report by March 31, 2005,"NY Times

    March 31! 2005! Ah geez, these guys aren't even trying to look honest. That is, perhaps, the scariest part of the W. White House - not only do they not have any accountability, they don't even need to pretend that they do.
    posted by elwoodwiles at 12:38 PM on February 6, 2004


    Scalia has already recused himself from the Pledge of Allegiance case because he yapped about it in a speech last year.

    His failure to do it here would be a violation of his oath of office, and grounds for impeachment. (cue john kerry saying "bring it on.")
    posted by PrinceValium at 12:48 PM on February 6, 2004


    Be vewy vewy quiet! [Flash]
    posted by homunculus at 12:48 PM on February 6, 2004


    Power Elite in US Highly Interconnected; Tend To Associate With One Another

    Washington, DC -- Recent data suggests that wealthy and powerful individuals, such as prominent government officials and business executives, are statistically more likely to spend time with one another than they are to socialize with, for example, steelworkers or McDonalds employees. The effect appears to be especially pronounced when the individuals in question share similar interests and values, or are related to one another. The authors of the study expressed surprise at their results, which cast into question the classless, egalitarian nature of (cont'd. on page 35)
    posted by ook at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2004


    "Power Elite in US Highly Interconnected"

    Well. I guess there's no point in silly ideas like oversight, accountability, checks and balances, etc.

    Thank God corruption is now accepted as the status quo. That will make things so much easier.
    posted by y6y6y6 at 12:58 PM on February 6, 2004


    As long as nothing Cheney and Scalia did stained anyone's dress, the Republic is sound.

    yes, I'm being sarastic. Do I have to explain ALL my jokes?!?
    posted by wendell at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2004


    Recuse or impeach. What's the issue?
    posted by rushmc at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2004


    y6, please check the batteries in your sarcasm detector; I think they're running low.
    posted by ook at 1:13 PM on February 6, 2004


    March 31! 2005! Ah geez, these guys aren't even trying to look honest.

    So the 9/11 commission has to be wrapped up before Election Day, but the report on whether or not the President fucked up royally- you know, something that mighta, sorta, kinda affect one's opinion on the quality of the Commander-In-Chief's job- comes after the day we decide to fire him or not?
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:16 PM on February 6, 2004


    Be vewy vewy quiet!

    Thanks for that, homonculus. As usual, Fiore makes a number of good points fairly quickly. As Antonin Fudd says in the cartoon, "I didn't recuse myself then, [2000 presidential contest] why should I recuse myself now?"

    This goes directly to the question of how they cannot care how bad they look - because every single time they push the "outrage" envelope and get away with it, they have a baseline from which to expand for the next outrage. Clueless Americans forget that there ever where anything such as standards of decency or honesty, and in case they do suddenly rise up and complain, the powers-that-be can dial it back just a iota (e.g. appointing a panel to find out what was obvious to most of us here in February of 2003) and still have made massive gains.
    posted by soyjoy at 1:26 PM on February 6, 2004


    Regarding 28 USC 455, note also that the Supreme Court has previously said in an opinion:

    ...so that what matters is not the reality of bias or prejudice but its appearance. Quite simply and quite universally, recusal was required whenever "impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

    and who delivered the opinion?

    ...Justice Scalia. (March 7, 1994)
    posted by neurodoc at 1:32 PM on February 6, 2004


    So the 9/11 commission has to be wrapped up before Election Day

    I believe it was announced this week that the 9/11 commission can have all the time they want now, and pundits argued this was so Bush wouldn't have to deal with the intelligence report until after the election.
    posted by drezdn at 1:43 PM on February 6, 2004


    Recuse or impeach. What's the issue?

    Why recuse yourself when you know you'll never get impeached?
    posted by ewagoner at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2004


    Instead of hunting ducks, maybe they should have just gone throwing rocks at boys.
    posted by LeLiLo at 1:50 PM on February 6, 2004


    recusal was required whenever "impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

    and who delivered the opinion?

    ...Justice Scalia. (March 7, 1994)



    yeah but that was then.
    now, good old Antonio is the swing vote in the energy task force imbroglio. 5-4, sounds familiar?

    it's very unlikely that the 5 Bush vs Gore justices are very keen on opening up the whole energytaskforce-Afghanistan-Iraq can of worms.
    posted by matteo at 3:12 PM on February 6, 2004



    How do you solve
    A problem like Scalia?
    How do you catch
    A cloud and pin it down?
    How do you find a word
    That means Scalia?
    A flibberti gibbet!
    A willo' the wisp!
    A clown!

    Many a thing you know
    You'd like to tell him,
    Many a thing he ought
    To understand.
    But how do you make him stay,
    And listen to all you say?
    How do you keep a wave
    Upon the sand?
    Oh, how do you solve
    A problem like Scalia?
    How do you hold
    A moonbeam in your hand?

    /musical interlude
    posted by stonerose at 5:48 PM on February 6, 2004


    Seriously though, does anybody really think that there was ever any chance of Scalia siding against Cheney, duck hunting or no duck hunting?

    I think that's what Scalia was talking about when he said that nobody could reasonably question his impartiality. No reasonable person could believe that Scalia would have an open mind regarding this issue to begin with.
    posted by boltman at 9:58 PM on February 6, 2004


    Durwood has been a bush lover for so long that nothing surprises him anymore.
    posted by mcsweetie at 6:27 AM on February 7, 2004


    Catholics can be fundies too.
    As can Hindus, Muslims, any backward facing religionist.
    And Scalia is one of the worst sort of Catholics with his brand of fundamentalism. I wonder if he's Opus Dei?


    "any descent church would have burned you people along time ago"

    -From, 'The Russia House'
    posted by clavdivs at 7:54 AM on February 7, 2004


    What's a "descent church" ?
    posted by troutfishing at 11:22 PM on February 7, 2004


    Ducking The Law
    posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on February 8, 2004


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