~e; Cheney's Supreme Court Justice

From human being <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Sun, 18 Jan 2004 11:57:19 -0600

regarding the .US Energy Task Force investigation:
after falling off my chair reading this, it was thought
this surprise gift from the news could be shared to
offer some context to the invisible goings-on of the
.US Energy Task Force process and papers which
are going to be up-for-review by the Supreme Court
of the United States of America, at the same time the
related events of Enron's role in designing this public
policy (and, possibly, much more) with Ken Lay's role
as an unprosecuted figurehead of three years now to
be brought into relation to Andrew Fastow's plea deal
for 98 counts of fraud, which may get to bigger fish in
the Enron events yet dealt with-- that the story below,
and VP Cheney's intimate role in all things energetic,
to be meeting with a Supreme Court Justice (Scalia)
while the .US Energy Task Force is up for review in-
front of the .US Supreme Court to release papers,
and that this 'hunting trip' which produced little fowl,
was held on the lands of an 'oil-services company'
friend, also potentially related to .US Energy Task
Force conflicts of interest, is- to be generous- totally
outlandish to give further benefit of the doubt of no
improprieties to influence process in such maneuvers.
The only thing that could be done, it would seem,  is
that Justice Scalia recuses himself from the review
and decision of all .US Energy Task Force issues...

Scalia trip with Cheney raises eyebrows

Justice to hear case of energy task force

By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, 1/18/2004


      WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice  
Antonin Scalia spent part of last week duck hunting at a private camp  
in southern Louisiana, three weeks after the Supreme Court had agreed  
to take up the vice president's appeal in lawsuits over his handling of  
the administration's energy task force. While Scalia and Cheney are  
avid hunters and longtime friends, several legal ethics specialists  
questioned the timing of their trip, and said it raised doubts about  
Scalia's ability to judge the case impartially.

   Scalia said Friday: "I do not think my impartiality could reasonably  
be questioned."

Federal law says: "Any justice or judge shall disqualify himself in any  
proceeding in which his impartiality might be questioned."

For almost three years, Cheney has been fighting demands that he reveal  
whether he met with energy industry officials, including the chairman  
of Enron at the time, Kenneth L. Lay, when Cheney was formulating the  
president's energy policy.

A lower court has ruled that Cheney must turn over documents detailing  
who met with his task force, but on Dec. 15, the Supreme Court  
announced it would hear an appeal. The justices are due to hear  
arguments in April "in re Richard B. Cheney."

In a written response to an inquiry from the Los Angeles Times about  
the hunting trip, Scalia said: "Cheney was indeed among the party of  
about nine who hunted from the camp. Social contacts with high-level  
executive officials (including Cabinet officers) have never been  
thought improper for judges who may have before them cases in which  
those people are involved in their official capacity, as opposed to  
their personal capacity. For example, Supreme Court justices are  
regularly invited to dine at the White House, whether or not a suit  
seeking to compel or prevent certain presidential action is pending."

Cheney does not face a personal penalty in the pending lawsuits. He  
could not be forced to pay damages, for example.

But the suits are not routine disputes about the powers of Cheney's  
office. The plaintiffs, the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch, say Cheney  
and his staff violated an open-government measure known as the Federal  
Advisory Committee Act by meeting behind closed doors with outside  
lobbyists for the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries.

A New York University law professor, Stephen Gillers, said Scalia  
should have skipped going hunting with Cheney this year.

"A judge may have a friendship with a lawyer, and that's fine. But if  
the lawyer has a case before the judge, they don't socialize until it's  
over. That shows a proper respect for maintaining the public's  
confidence in the integrity of the process," said Gillers, who  
specializes in legal ethics. "I think Justice Scalia should have been  
cognizant of that and avoided contact with the vice president until  
this was over. And this is not like a dinner with 25 or 30 people. This  
is a hunting trip, where you are together for a few days."

The pair arrived Jan. 5 and were guests of Wallace Carline, the owner  
of Diamond Services Corp. an oil services company in Amelia, La. The  
Associated Press in Morgan City, La., reported the trip on the day the  
vice president and his entourage departed.

"They asked us not to bring cameras out there," said Sheriff David  
Naquin, who serves St. Mary Parish, 90 miles southwest of New Orleans,  
referring to the request for privacy. "The vice president and the  
justice were there for a relaxing trip."

While the local police were told about Cheney's trip shortly before his  
arrival, they were told to keep it a secret, Naquin said.

"The justice had been here several times before. I'm kind of sorry  
Cheney picked that week because it was a poor shooting week," Naquin  
said. "There weren't many ducks here, which is unusual for this time of  
the year."

Scalia agreed with the sheriff's assessment.

"The duck hunting was lousy. Our host said that in 35 years of duck  
hunting on this lease, he had never seen so few ducks," the justice  
said in his written response to the Times. "I did come back with a few  
ducks, which tasted swell."

Northwestern University law professor Steven Lubet, who teaches  
judicial ethics, said that he was not convinced Scalia must withdraw  
from the Cheney case, but that the trip had raised a number of  

"It's not clear this requires disqualification, but there are not  
separate rules for longtime friends," he said. "This is not like a  
lawyer going on a fishing trip with a judge. A lawyer is one step  
removed. Cheney is the litigant in this case. The question is whether  
the justice's hunting partner did something wrong. And the whole  
purpose of these rules is to ensure the appearance of impartiality in  
regard to the litigants before the court."

The code of conduct for federal judges sets guidelines for members of  
the judiciary, but it does not set clear-cut rules. "A judge should . .  
. act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the  
integrity and impartiality of the judiciary," it says. "A judge should  
not allow family, social or other relationships to influence judicial  
conduct or judgments . . . or permit others to convey the impression  
that they are in a special position to influence the judge."

In the lower courts, litigants may ask a judge to step aside. And if  
the request is refused, they may appeal to a higher court.

 Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.


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