[Homestead] Old scaley

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Wed Sep 29 00:35:16 EDT 2004


You got that right, Scaley Scalia, playing footsy with a guy whose case 
is impending before the Supreme Court.  The guy George Bush wants to be 
the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court---who makes his decisions in 
a duck blind, a freebie flight on a private jet, in courthouse corridors 
and backrooms out of public view.


Impeaching Antonin Scalia, yet again
Scalia won't recuse himself from considering whether Vice-President 
Cheney broke federal laws by refusing to disclose who met with him to 
draft big energy-industry legislation.

    In an unusual 21-page memorandum, he rejected a request by the 
Sierra Club. The environmental group said it was improper for Scalia to 
take a hunting trip with Cheney while the court was considering whether 
the White House must release information about private meetings of 
Cheney's energy task force.

    Scalia said the remote Louisiana hunting camp used for a duck 
hunting and fishing trip "was not an intimate setting" and that the 
energy case was never discussed.

    The justice said he was guilty only of hunting with a friend and 
taking a free plane ride to get there. "If it is reasonable to think 
that a Supreme Court justice can be bought so cheap, the nation is in 
deeper trouble than I had imagined," Scalia wrote.

    "My recusal is required if ... my impartiality might reasonably be 
questioned," he said. "Why would that result follow from my being in a 
sizable group of persons, in a hunting camp with the vice president, 
where I never hunted with him in the same blind or had other opportunity 
for private conversation?"

    Given the circumstances of the trip, Scalia wrote, the only possible 
reason for recusal would be his friendship with Cheney.

    "A rule that required members of this court to remove themselves 
from cases in which the official actions of friends were at issue would 
be utterly disabling," Scalia wrote.

    Many Supreme Court justices get their jobs "precisely because they 
were friends of the incumbent president or other senior officials," he 
wrote.

As with most of Justice Scalia's writings about GOP ethics, this is full 
of bald-faced lies, bias, and deflection. Any district court judge who 
tried this would be up on charges.

First, the rule for all federal judges other than Associate Justices and 
the Chief Justice is that a judge should recuse himself when a 
"reasonable person" believes there could be a conflict of interest. 
Thousands of reasonable people believe that in this case, including 
calls for recusal from "dozens of newspapers," members of Congress, and 
many legal ethicists. Justice Scalia is only concerned about other 
people's ethics.

Second, Justice Scalia lamely claims that since he did not interact with 
Cheney or discuss the case with him, that there is no perceived conflict 
of interest. Any bets on whether or not Rush Limbaugh or Dick Cheney 
would have trusted Justice Stevens had he vacationed with President Bill 
Clinton before ruling on the Paula Jones lawsuit, but said they never 
talked about it?

Third, Justice Scalia says that since the trip was planned long before 
the Supreme Court agreed to hear Vice President Cheney's appeal, that 
there was no need to cancel it. That's as ridiculous as saying, "I 
planned to take a box cutter on an airplane flight long before 9-11, so 
I saw no reason to change my plans since I knew I wouldn't be using it 
to hijack a plane." He would never buy such specious reasoning from a 
petitioner before the Supreme Court - unless petitioner was equally 
archconservative.

Fourth, Justice Scalia has successfully been deflecting the issue to one 
of his friendship with the Vice President, as seen above. That is the 
least of the worries. The Vice President is appealing an order from 
lower courts to disclose details of meetings held to draft the 
administration's energy bill.

But as many have noted (including the Christian Science Monitor), a big 
feature of the bill is opening protected federal lands to much more 
exploration and drilling. The National Resources Defense Council noted 
that the Bush administration opened up sacred Native lands, full of 
archeological treasures, to drilling by one of Bush's biggest donors 
just two weeks after Bush took office, so "let's drill everywhere" is 
not exactly a new part of the Bush plan.

More relevant to this case, though, is that Justice Scalia's trip was 
paid for by Wallace Carline, a "multimillionaire oil-services tycoon" 
who "owns an oil rig services firm," namely Diamond Services 
Corporation. Energy Justice points out that a big part of the plan that 
came from Cheney's secret meetings involves not only allowing more 
drilling (which means more oil rig servicing), but huge incentives to 
drill new wells and redrill old wells:

    Billions of dollars of subsidies and research money would be 
provided for drilling in our coastal waters, including "ultra-deepwater" 
drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and "unconventional" drilling on land 
(such as deep diagonal drilling that would be used to drill for oil and 
gas under the Great Lakes). The Senate bill also provides for research 
and tax breaks for coalbed methane drilling. Such drilling is destroying 
farms and the rural ecology of states like Wyoming and Montana and even 
eastern states like Pennsylvania. Tax credits are even granted for oil 
and gas drilling in marginal wells, subsidizing otherwise unprofitable 
drilling operations. Under the 2002 House bill (Sec 6223), "unwarranted" 
denials and stays on drilling on federal lands would be eliminated.

Please recognize what has happened here.

About a year ago, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia 
invited the Vice President of the United States to accompany him on an 
all-expenses-paid duck hunting vacation. The vacation, the travel on a 
corporate jet, and the location itself were all provided by Wallace 
Carline, owner of an oil rig services company. At the same time, the 
Vice President was already fighting in federal court to avoid revealing 
whether his energy policy, which would funnel billions of dollars of 
taxpayer money to companies like Carline's, was largely created by the 
energy industry. Everyone knew the losing side would appeal the case to 
the Supreme Court.

Justice Scalia's friendship with Cheney is a red herring: Scalia voted 
to review - and thereby possibly overturn - a court ruling that Cheney 
must reveal who helped him craft this policy. At the same time, Scalia 
was accepting paid gifts from Carline, a man hugely affected by this 
same policy that would likely funnel hundreds of millions of dollars of 
new business to Carline's company.

By any ethical rule whatsoever, Justice Scalia should have recused 
himself not only from hearing the case, but even from voting to accept 
it. He is hopelessly compromised through his acceptance of gifts from 
Carline, because Carline stands to earn huge sums of money if the 
Supreme Court rules for Cheney. (The energy bill has almost no chance of 
passing if the energy industry's role becomes extensively documented, as 
will happen if Cheney loses the case.)

The fact that Justice Scalia invited Vice President Cheney on the trip, 
rather than mitigating it, makes it even worse. When the case came for 
Supreme Court review, Justice Scalia knew he was going to take a free 
trip from an interested party and that he had invited the actual 
petitioner to join in. His friendship with Vice President Cheney should 
have been reason to say, "Man, stay away from this trip after all," but 
instead, as with Bush v. Gore in 2000, Scalia blatantly displayed his 
bias, sure in the fact that even if anyone called him on it, no one 
could make him do anything about it. That was borne out today with his 
"defiant" refusal to obey the same rules of ethics he so gleefully 
wishes to impose upon others.

The only body that can do anything about this is the US Congress through 
Articles of Impeachment, and Justice Scalia has given them plenty of 
reason to draft them (see here, here, and maybe even here. They won't, 
of course, because the GOP-controlled House of Representatives wants 
more blatant partisans like Scalia, not fewer.

It's all the more reason to take the House away from them.
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