February 01, 2004

2 Democrats Criticize Scalia's Refusal to Quit Cheney Case

In battle after battle, Henry Waxman and John Conyers
have been tireless defenders of common sense, human
decency and the rule of law in this bizarre break with
reality that started in Dec. 2000 and will hopefully
end in November 2004...

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI), Los
Angeles Times: "The federal statute requiring a judge
to recuse himself 'in any proceeding where his
impartiality might reasonably be questioned' applies
to Supreme Court justices and other federal judges
alike," the lawmakers wrote. "We do not believe that
one standard should apply to judges who are friends of
the Clintons and another standard should apply to
judges who are friends of Mr. Cheney."

Cleanse the US Supreme Court of Cronyism, Show Up for
Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

http://truthout.org/docs_04/020104D.shtml

2 Democrats Criticize Scalia's Refusal to Quit Cheney Case
By David G. Savage
The Los Angeles Times

Saturday 31 January 2004

Reps. Waxman and Conyers cite the 1995 recusal of a
judge with ties to President Clinton.
WASHINGTON Two House Democrats added to the
pressure on Justice Antonin Scalia to withdraw from a
pending Supreme Court case involving Vice President
Dick Cheney on Friday, saying a recent duck hunting
trip the justice took with Cheney posed the same kind
of conflict of interest that had forced an Arkansas
judge who was a friend of President Clinton to
withdraw from a 1995 case.

Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and John
Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) cited that precedent in a letter
to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and urged him to
establish a procedure for "formal review" of justices'
possible ethical conflicts.

The case before the Supreme Court could compel
Cheney to release documents relating to his energy
task force.

Scalia's relationship with Cheney has come under
scrutiny because he flew to Morgan City, La., with the
vice president on Jan. 5 to hunt. The two were also
seen dining together outside Washington in November.

In the Arkansas case, then-independent counsel
Kenneth W. Starr pressed U.S. District Judge Henry
Woods to step aside from a matter that grew out of the
Whitewater investigation. Starr argued that a
"reasonable observer would question [his]
impartiality" because of the judge's friendship with
Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The judge had balked at withdrawing because
charges in the case were brought against Arkansas Gov.
Jim Guy Tucker and did not involve the Clintons
directly. Nonetheless, Starr persisted, saying that
the "public perception" was that the Whitewater
investigation involves the Clintons, at least
indirectly.

When Starr took the matter to a higher court, the
U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis agreed and ordered
Woods, now deceased, to step aside.

The law requires a judge to remove himself when
there is "the appearance of bias," the appeals court
said. It does not require the showing of actual bias.

"We make this request because it appears that
Justice Scalia is following a different standard than
the lower courts in deciding recusal questions,"
Waxman and Conyers wrote in their letter to Rehnquist.


"The federal statute requiring a judge to recuse
himself 'in any proceeding where his impartiality
might reasonably be questioned' applies to Supreme
Court justices and other federal judges alike," the
lawmakers wrote. "We do not believe that one standard
should apply to judges who are friends of the Clintons
and another standard should apply to judges who are
friends of Mr. Cheney."

On three occasions in late November and early
December, the Supreme Court considered an appeal filed
by Bush administration lawyers that sought to preserve
the secrecy that surrounded Cheney's energy task
force.

The Sierra Club and Judicial Watch had sued the
vice president, alleging that he violated an
open-government law by meeting behind closed doors
with corporate lobbyists. A judge ordered Cheney to
turn over documents to the lawyers for the two groups,
and the U.S. court of appeals upheld that order.

But on Dec. 15, the high court voted to take up
Cheney's appeal. The court is due to hear arguments in
the case in April.

In response to a Times inquiry, Scalia said this
month that he did not see a need to remove himself
from the case because Cheney was being sued in his
"official capacity, as opposed to [his] personal
capacity."

"I do not think my impartiality could reasonably
be questioned," the justice said.

In their letter Friday, Waxman and Conyers argued
that Cheney is the central figure in the lawsuit: "It
is no exaggeration to say that the prestige and power
of the Vice President are directly at stake" in the
case.

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Posted by richard at February 1, 2004 08:49 AM