Peter Jung tipped me off to ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: Supreme Ethics Problem?:
At the historic swearing-in of John Roberts as the 17th chief justice of the United States last September, every member of the Supreme Court, except Antonin Scalia, was in attendance. ABC News has learned that Scalia instead was on the tennis court at one of the country’s top resorts, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bachelor Gulch, Colo., during a trip to a legal seminar sponsored by the Federalist Society.
“I was out of town with a commitment that I could not break, and that’s what the public information office told you,” he said.
It “doesn’t matter what it was. It was a commitment that I couldn’t break,” Scalia continued when questioned further.
According to the event’s invitation, obtained by ABC News, the Federalist Society promised members who attended the seminar an exclusive and “rare opportunity to spend time, both socially and intellectually” with Scalia.
Update: Then again, maybe it’s not a duck?
This summer, I spent my time at one of the state supreme courts. I was involved in several discussions about conflicts of interests, because some staff of the court wanted to serve on some of the legal committees of the state. In some of these committees (rules, child law, etc) the court attorneys would not even have a vote in the matters, but could sit by and add input. The problem being, that even without votes, when these members spoke would it appear that they were speaking with some force of the court behind them. This lead to a discussion of the differences of real impropriety versus the mere appearance of impropriety. One can argue that appearance is not important when there is no real wrongdoing. This seems to be Scalias stance (see Cheney dealings). He may be right. However, some want to go a step further, and remove even the hints of impropriety even if the underlying impropriety is unfounded. This is what the court I was at ultimately decided was in the best interest of the court, and ultimately the people of the state. It stung some of the staff, but they knew where they were working, and they knew the honor and the troubles that such honor comes with. They had options, of course. They could have quit.
Judge Jackson was removed from the Microsoft Anti-Trust case because of the appearance of impropriety by the appeals court (for the offense of telling a reporter that he (correctly, IMO) thought Microsoft was lying to him, while the case was still before him). Contrast that with Justice Scalia’s utter disregard for ‘appearance of impropriety’ with his hunting trip with defendant Cheney and now with his Federalist Society-sponsored vacation.
This ethics-rules-for-thee-but-not-for-me attitude of Scalia’s tarnishes the reputation of the court – not just the supreme court, but lower courts as well. Why is he not censured by his peers both in the supreme court and outside of it ?