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Friday, July 11, 2014


The first time I was keenly aware of Antonin Scalia was when George W. Bush was handed the 2000 election by Scalia and his cronies. Scalia made no apologies to the accusation that his role in the case of Bush v. Gore conferred the election on Bush, telling critics "it was the right thing to do".

He also confounded many Court observers with his recusal record. Scalia, who portends to adhere to the judicial philosophy of "originalism", which holds that the Constitution is to be interpreted in terms of what it meant to those who ratified it over two centuries ago ( in direct conflict with the more commonly held view that the Constitution is as "living document" allowing courts to take into account the views of contemporary society) recused himself from cases that should have interested him, such as the Pledge of Allegiance case of Elk Grove v. Newdow but refused to recuse himself when there was a suspected conflict of interest in the case of Cheney v. US District Court for DC even though he had a close personal relationship with the then-Vice-President Dick Cheney.

From the press:

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent part of last week duck hunting together in a private camp in southern Louisiana just three weeks after the court agreed to take up the vice president's appeal in lawsuits over his handling of the administration's energy task force.

While Scalia and Cheney are avid hunters and long time friends, several experts in legal ethics questioned the timing of their trip and it raised doubts about Scalia's ability to judge the case impartially.

In a startling and unconvincing statement, Scalia asserted that the hunting expedition was not in an intimate setting, based on the facts that they did not sleep in the same room or hunt in the same duck blind and that he was not alone with Cheney at any time during the trip, except, perhaps, for instances so brief and unintentional that Scalia could not recall them; walking to and from the boat, perhaps, or going to and from dinner.

Although intimacy may be defined in many ways, a reasonable observer certainly could conclude that the expedition, as described by Scalia himself, was quite intimate. Flying to Louisiana on Cheney's own aircraft in the company of only Cheney and three other guests and spending two days in a highly communal setting with only twelve other men (members of Cheney's staff and security detail) certainly seems intimate to many persons who urged Scalia's recusal (the "originalist") to no avail.

At some point much later, Scalia was pressed to cite a "heroic moment" in his career. Scalia finally sited his refusal to recuse himself from the case involving Dick Cheney's claims of executive privilege for his energy task force. (Scalia, in addition to the duck hunting trip, also attended a private dinner with Cheney and then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Maryland's eastern shore, while the Supreme Court was considering Cheney's appeal.)

"Most of my opinions don't take guts", Scalia told New York'sJennifer Senior. "They take smarts. But not courage. And I was proud of that. I did the right thing and it let me in for a lot of criticism and it was the right thing to do and I was proud of that. So that's the only heroic thing I've done."

Somewhat ironic that this opinion of which he is so proud led to such things as the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the current raping of Wisconsin's silica for use in even more environmental destruction, fracking.

I would imagine as a "good Catholic boy" he can add to his heroic opinions, the recent Hobby Lobby decision.


My friend and erstwhile "marketeer", Liz Fischer, recently sent this to me:

Here is the history of one of the most controversial pieces of advertising copy ever written... The Pledge of Allegiance.

That's right. Little did we know, but this little thing that we grew up saying daily in school wasn't a noble tome written by our Founding Fathers. Nor is it some holy relic of history. Rather, the pledge got its start as a piece of sales copy.

I kid you not.

The author was a fallen Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy. The year was 1892. And Bellamy had recently lost his preaching job for giving sermons with titles like "Jesus Was A Socialist."

His friends James Upham and Daniel Ford had hired Bellamy to write for their magazine, "Youth Companion." One of the things the magazine did was sell flags.

On the magazine's reputation, Bellamy was able to convince President Harrison to ask for flag flying at every public schoolhouse. Three months letter, Bellamy wrote the Pledge to help promote the idea in the magazine.

It was a smash success.

And as Paul Harvey would say: . . ." And now you know the rest of the story".

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