Thursday, April 13, 2006

Keeping Up Appearances

A few months ago, I criticized former Justice O'Connor and Justice Breyer. I said that they should recuse themselves from a case involving Merck, a company in which they owned stock. Even though they were shareholders in the parent company, they weren't involved in the named party to the suit. I said that they should not have un-recused themselves based on the appearance of improper influence or impropriety.

Now I'm going to criticize Justice Scalia for substantially the same thing. Blogger seems to be acting up a little this morning, so I'll try to fix the link later, but for now, click here:

In a nutshell, justice Scalia declared pride at not recusing himself from a case where his friend (and current Vice President) was a party. VP Cheney was party in the suit as an official at the head of the group being sued (click on the link for better details). Justice Scalia said "for Pete's sake, if you can't trust a Supreme Court Justice more than that, get a life." Yes, it's better to attack the people who question the appearance of improper influence than to take the simple step back and let the other justices deliberate and make the decision free of the appearance. That he didn't trust them to make the ruling in his recusal could arguably speak to his distrust of the other Justices' abilities.

As with O'Connor and Breyer, it's not that he would be influenced, it's that it looks like he could be that is the issue.

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