Friday, March 19, 2004

Conflict of Interest 101 (cont.)
Abuse of Power 101 (cont.)

Does Supreme Court Justice Scalia send a 21-page memorandum to his wife when she asks him to take the garbage out? Does he send a 21-page memorandum to the rest of the court when it's time for lunch? Methinks the Justice doth protesteth too much:

Scalia, in a feisty, 21-page memorandum, said that because Cheney was being sued in his official capacity as a government officer and not personally, their friendship was not relevant in the case. Scalia rejected an environmental group's suggestion he should recuse himself because the trip to Louisiana created the appearance that Scalia might not be impartial in judging the case.

"My recusal is required if ... my 'impartiality might reasonably be questioned,' " Scalia wrote, citing federal rules that offer guidance to justices on when to remove themselves from cases. "While friendship is a ground for recusal of a justice where the personal fortune or the personal freedom of the friend is at issue, it has traditionally not been a ground for recusal where official action is at issue."

A spokesman for the Sierra Club, which had called on Scalia to drop out of the case, said the justice "misses the point."

"It is the appearance of secrecy and impropriety that causes a problem, and it clearly has caused a public outcry here," Sierra Club spokesman David Bookbinder said.

The Sierra Club is suing Cheney to try to force him to release details of meetings involving a task force he led to develop a federal energy policy. The group says the task force relied on advice from energy industry executives who advocated industry subsidies and other policies that are "destructive" to the environment. Cheney has refused to release such details, citing executive privilege. The case is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 27.

When even the "most respected public institution" in America, by every poll that's ever been taken, is infected with abuse of power, we know we've got huge problems in leadership. Scalia can argue until he is blue that it is legally correct to not recuse himself. But he is not right, morally or ethically, nor is he the example we want to hold up, displaying our system of justice to the rest of the world. Justice is blind for certain in this case. Scalia not only needs to recuse himself, he needs to retire. We don't want someone, who doesn't understand the abuse of power in a free society, to again decide the next election.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link