Monday, March 27, 2006


Supreme arrogance

It wasn't long ago that we heard John Roberts and Samuel Alito tell us that they wouldn't say how they'd decide, should their appointments be confirmed, on issues that might come up before the Supreme Court, because to give the cases fair hearings they would have to hear the arguments and decide each case based on its arguments. I agreed with them on that point, despite the general liberal opinion that they should be made to come out in the open with their right-wing ideas. I agreed with them because I believe that judges do have to try to hear the arguments of a case fairly. Clearly, anyone's general personal opinions colour her opinions in any specific case, but good people can be open-minded and it's what we hope for in our judges, and, most importantly, in our Supreme Court Justices.

How upsetting it is, then, to see that Justice Scalia has already decided key points in a case that will come before the court this week, about whether the detainees at Guantánamo Bay have the right to due process. The newsweek article refers us to "an unpublicized March 8 talk" in Switzerland, in which Justice Scalia says that "it's crazy" to give them a full jury trial. "Give me a break."

No, Justice Scalia, give us a break. Give our constitution and our laws and our way of life and how we treat people... give all that a break, and do it by sitting this one out. By coming out as so clearly biased on the subject, you have no business judging this case, so recuse yourself. Take what your fellow Justices, and your new Chief Justice, have said to heart: do not pre-judge cases, and if you can't help it, then step aside and let those who can hear it fairly do so without you.

Yes, Justice Scalia, give us a break.

Update: The New York Times agrees; as they say in a 2 April editorial:

Justice Scalia was an active questioner at last week's hearing. Still, it is not too late for him to reconsider his decision to take part in the case. His colleagues should help persuade him that it is the right thing to do. While they are at it, they might try to convince Justice Scalia of his duty to take greater care before articulating ? or gesticulating ? his sentiments in public.

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