Mortal peril isn't the only risk of going hunting with Dick Cheney. So is suffering a serious lapse in ethical behavior. If you're a Supreme Court justice, hunting with the Veep might draw accusations of bias and prejudice and possible law breaking. This is precisely what happened when Antonin Scalia joined Cheney in his other famous hunting trip. Cheney just happened to have a little "business" pending with the judge. You might recall that, in 2003-2004, that business was the matter of Cheney's secret energy task force, which the Supreme Court was being asked to review.
Roy Sekoff at HuffingtonPost explains:
Reading about Vice President Cheney's hunting trip mishap put me in mind of the last time Dick and his trusty shotgun made news. It was January 2003, and the Veep flew Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia down to Louisiana so they could duck hunt together -- a trip that took place just three weeks after Cheney had asked the High Court to let him keep the inner workings of his energy task force a secret (the Supremes eventually did just that, kicking the case back to a lower court which ruled Cheney didn't have to come clean). Cheney didn't shoot anyone in the face on that trip. But he and Scalia did blast a hole in the concept of the public's right to know while proving they don't give a flying duck about the rest of us. Here's a short animation me and two friends, Julie Bergman Sender and Tate Hausman, put together to show what we think might have gone down in that bayou duck blind. Click the Play button below to check it out.
At the time, we at TomPaine.com wanted the public to understand the blatant conflict of interest presented by Scalia hunting with Cheney and another oil-industry executive weeks after Scalia learned he would be deciding on a case involving Cheney. We ran a quarter-page ad in the op-ed section of The New York Times that challenged Scalia for refusing to acknowledge his lack of neutrality in a future ruling on Cheney's secret energy commission. We noted that more than 15 major newspaper editorial boards had urged Scalia to remove himself from Cheney's case. The ad quotes the U.S. legal code that Scalia may have violated, 28 U.S. Code 455:
Any justice, judge or magistrate of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned...He shall disqualify himself in the following circumstances: Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party...
Impervious to these criticisms, Scalia responded at the time by quipping that the only thing wrong with his weekend with Cheney was that the duck hunting was "lousy." And Cheney got the outcome he wanted: The Supreme Court chose not to rule on the case, returning it to the lower courts, which prevented the public from seeing the records of the energy task force.
| Monday, February 13, 2006 11:32 AM