Scalia should recuse self to ensure unbiased justice

Joshua Horton

Joshua Horton

Justice is one of the founding principles of American politics and culture. We meet that end though democracy, equal rights and voice in government.

Unfortunately, the fatal flaw in all systems of government is that they are run by men. James Madison once said “If men were angels, there would be no need for laws much less for government.”

Case in point, Justice Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Judge, personal friend of Vice President Dick Cheney and someone about to hear a case over sealed files from the Vice President’s Energy Task Force in 2001. Reality: Men are not angels and will always protect their interests and the interests of friends.

In 2001, the Vice President headed a task force that included major players in the energy industry to discuss an energy policy for the new White House.

One of the most well known members of this task force was the infamous Ken Lay, former Chairman of Enron. You probably know him best for royally screwing over investors and employees of the company and making off with millions of dollars after the dust settled. He is also a good friend of the President. In fact, Enron was the largest contributor to Bush in 2000, giving the campaign $500,000.

But I digress.

During this closed door task force, policy was formulated with advice from utility companies and oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy industries.

A ruling by a federal judge in 2002 ordered the documents to be released. Although heavily censored, they give the recommendation that the government should open more federal lands to oil, gas and coal development.

Fast-forward to early January 2004. The Supreme Court made the decision to hear Vice President Cheney’s appeal, based on the argument that Congress and the courts have no business making inquiries into the decision making power of the federal agencies and offices.

The issue is that executive privilege must be protected and that releasing the information weakens the executive authority.

Only three weeks later, Scalia, with his son and a son-in-law, traveled with Cheney to hunt in a private reserve in Louisiana. A request by Sierra Club has called into question Scalia’s impartiality in this case because the close relationship that Scalia has with the Vice President and the details of the trip.

So far Scalia has said that he would not step down because he does not believe that there is anything wrong with socializing with Cheney. He has also said that the trip had been planned before the court had agreed to hear it.

In any case, the situation is gray.

For the public, it’s a matter of how much we trust the White House. If we completely trust the actions that it took, then there is nothing wrong with allowing Scalia to hear the case.

But if there is doubt about White House action, then we must be insured that this case will be subjected to unbiased scrutiny. If its not, where’s the justice?

Reach Joshua Horton at [email protected].