Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Scalia-Cheney Connection

I agree with Scalia. If he didn't recuse himself when he made his friend Vice President, why should he recuse himself now. He's absolutely right. His mind was made up well before he went duck hunting with a man who was Vice President only because of the persuasion of Scalia's influence among his fellow justices, in an airplane owned by an oil company. I might well ponder, who owns whom? Scalia snubs our middle-class expectations of impartiality my attacking the Sierra Club for its audacity of suggesting that his long-term friendship with Cheney would somehow influence how he might hold in a case. Any case. And in doing so, no one asks about the plane owned by the oil company. Maybe Scalia will recuse himself from all future cases where the Sierra Club is a party. That would itself be a plus.

I honestly believe that the duck-hunting trip did not influence Scalia in any way whatsoever. That is not the only reason for recusal, though, and Scalia knows this.

Recusal is also used when the justice wants to demonstrate how important and sacred the law is, by avoiding even the appearance of influence. You want to see this demonstrated, observe the California Supreme Court and how they practice the art of recusal.

If the public loses faith in the courts, our civic agreement is damaged. In this country, we have resorted to civil war only once. To do anything which would make Americans lose confidence in an impartial judiciary is to do serious damage to our tripartite government. Scalia in his cynicism has done us great harm.

Think not? Ask anyone you know if they think the Supreme Court would be impartial should a case similar to Florida occur again in 2004. Watch the ones who say yes. Watch their eyes. Notice the flicker of fear in some of their eyes just before they answer. That flicker of fear is the acknowledgement that the Court is no longer accepted as impartial by half of the country. The fear you see in their eyes is genuine.

I have not voted for a Republican candidate for President in over 30 years. The one issue that has always motivated me: the Supreme Court. I wish I had the option of having other issues in the Presidential race. I don't. It's totally about who appoints federal judges. Kerry at his worst, will do better than Bush at his best. I used to be critical of Bill Clinton for his appointments of Ginsburg and Breyer, but a good friend pointed out to me that both Breyer and Ginsburg are masters at building consensus. That's equivalent to playing no-trump over a bid of spades: stay away from trump and you're commanding the game.

Every night before retiring, I pray for the health of Stevens (84), Renquist (80), and O'Connor (74). Scalia is also up there at 68, but that seems young when compared to Stevens and Renquist. Scalia is evil. He has the kind of ego that would sink the ship just to show his superiority to the rest of the passengers. Intellectually, I think he's incredibly dishonest. He's as faithful to the Constitution as a Church of God minister is at interpreting the Bible.

My point in all of this is let's just make sure the next person who gets to shape the future by his appointments to the Supreme Court is someone whose opinion in this matter is one that we can trust, and it ain't Bush.