Thursday, April 13, 2006

Scalia Flunks Ethics Quiz

Justice Antonin Scalia failed, once again, a basic ethics question: "Can a judge ethically decide a case involving his hunting buddy?"

Recently, he boasted that his failure to recuse himself in a 2004 case involving his hunting buddy, Dick Cheney, was the "proudest thing" he has ever done on the Supreme Court. See

However, the rule in such cases is not as Scalia stated. The rule is not whether he can be trusted to be impartial. The rule, for a judge, is whether he can avoid the appearance of partiality.

Judging a case involving a hunting buddy reasonably draws into question the impartiality of the judge. It may be that Justice Scalia is, personally, able to rule on the case fairly. However, a reasonable person could question whether there would be some tilt in his judgment.

A judge motivated by and aware of ethical issues would have recused himself.

Justice Scalia did not.

For him to boast of his violation of basic ethical standards is a shame on the Court and on the entire legal profession.

Most judges would be subject to investigation for such a violation. But, under our Constitution, the body empowered to investigate Scalia, as a member of the Supreme Court, is the Senate.

And the titular head of the Senate is Scalia's hunting buddy.

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