Now he tells us


Geraldine Sealey
March 19, 2004 12:45AM (UTC)

Here is Justice Antonin Scalia's memorandum (.pdf file) defending his duck-hunting trip with Dick Cheney and explaining why, in his view, it is not necessary to recuse himself from the case involving the secrecy of the V.P.'s energy policy board. Scalia describes the trip in detail and assures us that he had no intimate encounters with Cheney. The two, in fact, did not even share a bunk, Scalia says. Nor did they hunt in the same "blind" (that's duck-hunting lingo). "Nor was I alone with him at any time during the trip, except, perhaps, for instances so brief and unintentional that I would not recall them -- walking to or from a boat, perhaps, or going to or from dinner." To hear Scalia describe it, you have to wonder why he invited Cheney along in the first place.

Here's the longer excerpt of the memo detailing the outing, and, for later, an item from the blog Talk Left with a collection of editorials calling for Scalia's recusal.

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Scalia: "For five years or so, I have been going to Louisiana during the Court's long December-January recess, to the duck-hunting camp of a friend whom I met through two hunting companions from Baton Rouge, one a dentist and the other a worker in the field of handicapped rehabilitation. The last three years, I have been accompanied on this trip by a son-in-law who lives near me. Our friend and host, Wallace Carline, has never, as far as I know, had business before this Court. He is not, as some reports have described him, an 'energy industry executive' in the sense that summons up boardrooms of ExxonMobil or Con Edison. He runs his own company that provides services and equipment rental to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. During my December 2002 visit, I learned that Mr. Carline was an admirer of Vice President Cheney. Knowing that the Vice President, with whom I am well acquainted (from our years serving together in the Ford administration), is an enthusiastic duck-hunter, I asked whether Mr. Carline would like to invite him to our next year's hunt. The answer was yes; I conveyed the invitation (with my own warm recommendation) in the spring of 2003 and received an acceptance (subject, of course, to any superseding demands on the Vice President's time) in the summer. The Vice President said that if he did go, I would be welcome to fly down to Louisiana with him. (Because of national security requirements, of course, he must fly in a Government plane.) That invitation was later extended -- if space was availableto my son-in-law and to a son who was joining the hunt for the first time; they accepted. The trip was set long before the Court granted certiorari in the present case, and indeed before the petition for certiorari had even been filed."

"We departed from Andrews Air Force Base at about 10 a.m. on Monday, January 5, flying in a Gulfstream jet owned by the Government. We landed in Patterson, Louisiana, and went by car to a dock where Mr. Carline met us, to take us on the 20-minute boat trip to his hunting camp. We arrived at about 2 p.m., the 5 of us joining about 8 other hunters, making about 13 hunters in all; also present during our time there were about 3 members of Mr. Carline's staff, and, of course, the Vice President's staff and security detail. It was not an intimate setting. The group hunted that afternoon and Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; it fished (in two boats) Tuesday afternoon. All meals were in common. Sleeping was in rooms of two or three, except for the Vice President, who had his own quarters. Hunting was in two- or three-man blinds. As it turned out, I never hunted in the same blind with the Vice President. Nor was I alone with him at any time during the trip, except, perhaps, for instances so brief and unintentional that I would not recall themwalking to or from a boat, perhaps, or going to or from dinner. Of course we said not a word about the present case. The Vice President left the camp Wednesday afternoon, about two days after our arrival. I stayed on to hunt (with my son and son-in-law) until late Friday morning, when the three of us returned to Washington on a commercial flight from New Orleans."

"If it is reasonable to think that a Supreme Court justice can be bought so cheap, the nation is in deeper trouble than I had imagined," Scalia went on to say.

In response, the Sierra Club, which demanded the justice's recusal, said today Scalia should still step down from the case. But David Bookbinder, Washington legal director of the Sierra Club also said: "It would have been terrific if Justice Scalia had released this information back in January, when the American public first began raising questions about the trip."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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