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September 14, 2005

Why would I want to do that?

Posted by Thad

Sheelzebub points to an interesting AP story on Roberts that suggests he may need to recuse himself from many cases:

WASHINGTON -- John Roberts is an appeals court judge who has a broad roster of clients from his days in private practice, a multimillion-dollar portfolio and a spouse who is a successful lawyer.

As a result, he probably will have to disqualify himself from many Supreme Court cases should he become chief justice. It is a situation that, while not unusual, would leave the nine-member court with a potential for tie votes.


By law, judges must not participate in cases brought by companies in which judges or family members own stock -- even one share. Justices police themselves when it comes to ethical conflicts and cannot be overruled. [emphasis added]

Well, that's the problem right there, isn't it?

Last year, Justice Antonin Scalia refused to step aside in a case filed by Vice President Dick Cheney, a friend. Cheney and Scalia had taken a hunting vacation together shortly after the court agreed to consider whether the Bush administration had to release information about private meetings of Cheney's energy task force.

So what makes anyone think Roberts would behave any differently?

- Thad


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I have some mixed reactions on the Scalia incident because although he is the most extreme of the right wing justices and one may assume that he might act as a rubber stamp for the administration... he doesn't always do that.

In Rumsfeld vs. Hamdhi, he wrote the majority opinion:

Anthony Scalia Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld
The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive. Blackstone stated this principle clearly:

"Of great importance to the public is the preservation of this personal liberty: for if once it were left in the power of any, the highest, magistrate to imprison arbitrarily whomever he or his officers thought proper ... there would soon be an end of all other rights and immunities. ... To bereave a man of life, or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole kingdom. But confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to gaol, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten; is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government. ...

"To make imprisonment lawful, it must either be, by process from the courts of judicature, or by warrant from some legal officer, having authority to commit to prison; which warrant must be in writing, under the hand and seal of the magistrate, and express the causes of the commitment, in order to be examined into (if necessary) upon a habeas corpus. If there be no cause expressed, the gaoler is not bound to detain the prisoner. For the law judges in this respect, ... that it is unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not to signify withal the crimes alleged against him." 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 132-133 (1765) (hereinafter Blackstone).

If you didn't get what he is saying Justice Scalia is calling the Bush administration a despotic regime!

So you can't always assume that they are going to do anything the administration wants.

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