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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Lithwick linkage re Scalia & judicial ethics

As I've explained at more length in an update I've inserted at the beginning of my original post from October 2003 entitled "Justice Scalia was right to recuse himself in the Pledge case," I didn't make, and in fact do not agree with, the "suggestion" — attributed to me via a link in Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick's article today entitled "Fighting Words: Leave Scalia Alone" — that "justices limit their speeches to scholarly, rather than advocacy groups."

My original post was a long one. Judicial ethics is a serious topic that deserves more than superficial treatment. I agree with the main thrust of Ms. Lithwick's article — that is, that Supreme Court Justices aren't proscribed from speaking on hot legal topics to advocacy groups on penalty of having to recuse themselves from cases involving those issues. And I agree with her that yesterday's article in the Los Angeles Times attacking Justice Scalia for having given "a keynote dinner speech in Philadelphia for an advocacy group waging a legal battle against gay rights" is misguided.

Perhaps, however, if she'd read my original post more closely — or better yet, read some of the Supreme Court ethics precedent written by Justice Scalia that I cited and quoted from at length — Ms. Lithwick's analysis would be more persuasive when she writes about judicial ethics. And perhaps she'd be right more consistently, instead of (as it seems) only occasionally and almost by accident.

Unfortunately, here as all too frequently in her writing about the Supreme Court, Ms. Lithwick is content to give only superficial legal analysis. Anything more would get in the way of her underlying conviction that everything the Supreme Court does is based on the personal whims and politics of the Justices — a conviction revealed again in her concluding lines today:

Increasingly, it seems like the worst thing anyone can say about Antonin Scalia is that he is honest and intellectually consistent. He has so many other more interesting faults, I assure you. And if we let him speak without hounding him, we're bound to find more of them.

Ah, yes — "I assure you." Such assurances only have real value if the person making them has credibility; and credibility is earned only by attention to detail. In Ms. Lithwick's case, her misattribution of a suggestion to me that I never made is unfortunately all too revealing of the attention she pays to the details. It's for that reason that I rank her credibility on matters of judicial ethics only a notch above the far more entertaining Wonkette.

Posted by Beldar at 08:29 PM in Current Affairs, Law (2006 & earlier), Weblogs | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Lithwick linkage re Scalia & judicial ethics and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Reading Is Fundamental from The Curmudgeonly Clerk

Tracked on Mar 9, 2004 9:17:51 PM


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