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Sierra Club calls for Scalia to leave Cheney case

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Sierra Club calls for Scalia to leave Cheney case
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By Gina Holland

Feb. 23, 2004 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Sierra Club on Monday called on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to remove himself from a case involving the vice president, because of a "troubling" hunting trip the two men took last month.

Until now, only outside groups have complained that the vacation, hosted by an energy executive, may have compromised Scalia's impartiality in considering whether names and details of Dick Cheney's energy task force must be released.


The Sierra Club, which had sued to get the information, said Scalia should stay out of the case "to redress an appearance of impropriety and to restore public confidence in the integrity of our nation's highest court."

Scalia has said there was nothing improper about the trip he took with Cheney three weeks after the Supreme Court agreed to consider the case. The two men flew together in January on a government jet to the Louisiana duck hunting camp of a multimillionaire oil-services tycoon.

Twenty of the country's 30 largest newspapers have called on Scalia to recuse himself, the Sierra Club said in a filing with the court.

"The national media reflects the American public's great concern about the continuing damage this affair is doing to the prestige and credibility of this court," attorney Alan Morrison, representing the Sierra Club, wrote in the filing that included copies of some editorial cartoons.

Scalia had no immediate response to the paperwork filed on Monday after the court had closed for the day. It was unclear when, or if, he would address the request.

At Amherst College this month Scalia said: "It's acceptable practice to socialize with executive branch officials when there are not personal claims against them. That's all I'm going to say for now. Quack, quack."

"Unfortunately, the Cheney-Scalia vacation mirrors the secrecy with which the Bush Administration often conducts business," Sierra Club lawyer David Bookbinder said in a statement.

Supreme Court justices, unlike judges on other courts, decide for themselves if they have conflicts, and their decisions are final. Judges must disqualify themselves from cases in which their impartiality "might reasonably be questioned."

Some Democrats in Congress had questioned whether Scalia should step aside, but they were rebuffed by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who said justices decide such questions for themselves.

At issue in the case, to be argued at the Supreme Court this spring, are allegations that energy industry executives and lobbyists were in on the Cheney meetings while environmentalists were shut out.

Judicial Watch, another group seeking information about the meetings, did not join in the recusal request.

The case is Cheney v. U.S. District Court, 03-475.

http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2004/02/23/scalia/index.html
 
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