Monday, February 23, 2004

Sierra Club files motion with full Court to have Scalia recused from Cheney's case.

The Sierra Club has taken the unusual, and usually futile, step of filing a motion with the full Court to get Justice Scalia recused from the Cheney case based upon his January duck-hunting trip with the Vice President, according to an Associated Press article filed by Gina Holland. It's unusual because the Supreme Court's Rule 21 -- which Sierra presumably invoked -- governs motions to the Court, while recusal motions are traditionally handled with a motion to the individual justice pursuant to Rule 22. The existence and rationale for this tradition are covered well today in Goldstein Howe's SCOTUSblog, and as recently as January 26th, CNN reported that Chief Justice Rehnquist dismissed senators' calls for recusal as "ill considered": "'It has long been settled that each justice must decide such a question for himself,' he said, although he added that justices often consult among themselves when such issues are raised."

Sierra Club hires savvy lawyers who know the odds. They have to know that the Court is not going to grant their motion and is likely not even to consider it on its merits. And despite the public comments of Scalia himself (at Amherst College on Feb 10: "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."), SC must be thinking that Scalia will surely bow to the rising tide of calls for him to recuse himself (unlikely), and failing that, that the full Court will "consult among themselves" -- including Justice Scalia -- on the subject. (And never let it be said that the Sierra Club's motives are pure. They desperately want Scalia out of the case because they predict his will be a vote against their likely position on the merits, which has less to do with the National Energy Policy Cheney produced than it does the process by which the policy was developed and the authority of the federal district court to compel the Vice President to comply with discovery requests concerning that process.) As much as Scalia would not want to appear to be bowing to public pressure to bow out, he could change his mind for the good of the Court, and no one would think any less of him.
posted by tommayo, 8:12 PM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter