Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Friends of the Court

Yesterday I blogged on Justice Antonin Scalia's recent speech in which he made it clear that he did not believe that prisoners of war have any rights to Constitutional protection when held by this country (scroll down to "Recuse Thyself"). Today, the Washington Post published an article indicating that several retired generals and admirals also believe the justice should recuse himself from the Hamdan case (arguments begin today).

On the eve of oral argument in a key Supreme Court case on the rights of alleged terrorists, a group of retired U.S. generals and admirals has asked Justice Antonin Scalia to recuse himself, arguing that his recent public comments on the subject make it impossible for him to appear impartial.

In a letter delivered to the court late yesterday, a lawyer for the retired officers cited news reports of Scalia's March 8 remarks to an audience at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland. ...

Scalia's remarks "give rise to the unfortunate appearance that, even before briefing was complete, he had already made up his mind" about issues in the case, the lawyer, David H. Remes, wrote. Noting that Scalia reportedly had discussed the rights of accused terrorists in the context of his son Matthew's recent tour as an Army officer in Iraq, Remes wrote that this creates an appearance of "personal bias arising from his son's military service."

In his letter to the court, Remes said Scalia's reported reference to the Geneva Conventions was of particular concern to the retired officers as it is directly at issue in the case. Their brief supports the view of the petitioner, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, that the conventions apply to him and could entitle him to a court-martial trial like that which U.S. soldiers receive.

Other calls for Scalia's recusal came yesterday from the Center for Constitutional Rights, a civil rights organization that supports the challenge to the military commissions, and from Rep. John D. Conyers (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Court rules say that justices must recuse in cases where their impartiality "might reasonably be questioned." But it is up to each justice to make that decision. Court analysts said yesterday it is unlikely Scalia will recuse from the case.
[Emphasis added]

The retired officers' primary concern is that if the US held detainees are not accorded the rights guaranteed under the Geneva Convention, US soldiers captured on the battle field will not be accorded those rights either. This has been a concern of military and diplomatic experts from the start.

Unfortunately, Justice Scalia's track record is pretty clear on the recusal issue. He refused to recuse himself from a case involving his hunting buddy, Vice Emperor Cheney. He also refused to recuse himself from a case in which he declared his opinion on the consitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance before oral arguments, just as he has in the Ramdan case.

Perhaps Chief Justice Roberts could have a little chat with Mr. Scalia and remind him what the court's own rules of ethics have to say about the issue.


Anonymous Nora said...

As if he cares about the rules of ethics. Who's going to enforce them, after all? Who has slapped him down in the past? I think the Cheney thing was most egregious -- though this comes a close second -- and it was clear that, even though the appearance of impropriety was strong, nothing was going to happen to him if he chose to be unethical and just find in favor of his friend.

Can we impeach a Supreme Court Justice or is there another procedure for removing one from office?

6:06 AM  
Blogger Eli said...

Scalia is an amoral pig.

8:23 PM  

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