Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words! (Scalia's Obscene Gesture To The Press)

Last Sunday, after receiving the Eucharist at a special Mass for lawyers and politicians at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, a reporter asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia whether press reports about his lack of impartiality (due to his faith) on the issue of "separation of church and state" were true.

"The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, 'To my critics, I say, 'Vaffanculo,' punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin," photographer Peter Smith said. ("Vaffanculo" means "(expletive) you" in Italian.) Smith immediately snapped the picture in front of many witnesses, mostly from the press.

According to Smith, Justice Scalia then said to him, "You’re not going to print that, are you?"

Justice Scalia denied the entire incident after press reports about it. See: In response, Smith printed it and gave it out to the media.

Here's the picture.

You can read about the incident at:

On March 8, 2006, in a speech at the University of Freiberg in Switzerland, Justice Scalia opined that the U.S. Constitution provides no rights to enemy combatants. It was "crazy," he apparently said, that enemy combatants, like the ones held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, receive a "full jury trial." According to Newsweek Magazine, he stated, "War is war." See:

Justice Scalia is not supposed to discuss a case pending in the Supreme Court. He is supposed to wait until he has heard oral arguments by the parties before he decides the issues. This time, he publicly expresssed an opinion to the press in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, a pending Supreme Court case which challenges the legality of the Bush Administration's military commissions set up to try terrorism suspects without the benefit of the Geneva Convention or due process. By the time the court heard oral arguments Tuesday in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, Justice Scalia showed he had already made up his mind. Thus, Justice Antonin Scalia is disqualified from hearing the case and in participating in the court's deliberations in the matter.

Because of the statements he made in public, many have asked the obviously partial jurist to recuse himself.

In a letter delivered to the court late Monday, a lawyer for a group of retired U.S. generals and admirals cited Scalia's March 8th remarks at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland. The letter said Scalia's reported reference to the Geneva Conventions was of particular concern to the retired officers, as it is the exact issue in the case. They asked him to recuse himself.

Other calls for Scalia's recusal came Monday from the Center for Constitutional Rights, a civil rights organization that supports the challenge to the military commissions, and from Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

If he were a truly honorable jurist, he would have recused himself. He did not. He sat at the bench this week and heard oral arguments in the case. So much for the impartiality of the Supreme Court bench!

This is not the first time that Scalia has shown partiality. In 2004, after receiving great pressure to do so, he recused himself in a case on the constitutionality of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, after he spoke out on the then-pending case at a rally in Virginia.

The Boston Herald added the following in their article at
The notoriously media-wary Scalia just last month had a Boston man tossed for heckling him at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. In 2004, Scalia’s bodyguard confiscated a reporter’s digital recorder and erased a talk the judge had just given to a school assembly. The Justice Department later ruled the federal marshal had broken the law. In 1996, Scalia told a Baptist prayer breakfast that America was rife with enemies of Christians. In 2004, he ruffled feathers by duck hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney while the court was considering a case on Cheney’s energy task force.
(He refused to recuse himself in Cheney's case as well. So much for blind justice.)


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