Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Justice Scalia Gets Cheney Case Recusal Request

Mar 1, 12:41 pm ET
By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it referred to Justice Antonin Scalia a request that he remove himself from a case about Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force because their recent duck-hunting trip raised questions about his impartiality.

The Sierra Club environmental group, which sued Cheney for the task force papers, filed a motion last week asking that Scalia disqualify himself from the case because the January trip had created "an appearance of impropriety."

It said Scalia's removal would "restore public confidence in the integrity of our nation's highest court."

The justices said in a brief order, "In accordance with its historic practice, the court refers the motion to recuse in this case to Justice Scalia." It was not clear when Scalia would respond to the request.

He has defended his decision to go on the trip and said his impartiality could not be reasonably questioned.

According to the motion, Scalia and his daughter were Cheney's guests on Air Force Two on a Jan. 5 flight to Louisiana. Cheney and Scalia were guests of the president of an energy services company on a duck-hunting vacation.

Cheney is being sued by the Sierra Club and another group. They want him to release documents about White House contacts with the energy industry in 2001. The vice president has appealed to the Supreme Court a ruling ordering him to produce the documents.

In mid-December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Cheney's appeal. Oral arguments are expected in April.

If Scalia removed himself from the case, it would raise the prospect of a possible 4-4 vote. When the high court deadlocks, the lower court's ruling -- in this case the U.S. appeals court decision that went against Cheney -- is upheld.

At the end of last week, Scalia faced new questions about another trip he took in November 2001 to Kansas, where he also went hunting.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Scalia also spoke to the University of Kansas law school. At the time, its dean was serving as a lawyer for the state in two cases pending before the high court.

Scalia has removed himself from one high-profile case before the high court this term.

He is not taking part in the case that will decide whether recitation in public schools of the Pledge of Allegiance represents an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion because of the phrase "under God."

Scalia removed himself after giving a speech in which he questioned both the appeals court's ruling in the case and whether courts should remove religious symbols and phrases from public life.

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