Thursday, June 28, 2012

Scalia in Hot Water

It's really very hard to unseat a SCJ. While there are minimum levels of ethical conduct, the word "minimum" essentially means they can't kill someone. So, there's a lot of wiggle room. This is something that particular SCJ's have been hammered for in the past. For example, Justice Clarence Thomas has gone to fundraisers for organizations that he has then voted to benefit. It's not technically against the rules. Neither is the fact that Thomas's wife works for an organization whose sole purpose is to overturn the ACA. This has raised eyebrows, but Thomas did not recuse himself, and so there's nothing anybody can really do about it.

Well, now it's Antonin Scalia's turn to create a controversy. Scalia, who has been one of the most out-spoken justices of the court, is being criticized for recent remarks he made from the bench. Scalia is notorious for sounding off on topics he is voting on, and being blatantly conservative. He is also known for using his appointed platform to attack anyone he doesn't agree with.

His most recent remarks, however, were in reference to something that he wasn't even deliberating on. Specifically, Scalia took time out of proceedings on a completely different topic to bash the Obama administration over its recent change in immigration policy, in which it will no longer deport individuals who were brought here as children.

The fact that Scalia was not even discussing this on the bench when he made these remarks puts his comments in an unusual position. Supreme Court Justices are meant to be impartial, just like any other judge in the country. Scalia has definitely toed the line before now with his remarks, but never has he gone completely off topic to attack the President. He was not remarking on an issue he was dealing with, but rather made a purely political statement on an issue his position was not part of at the time. That is not being impartial in any sense of the word.

As you can imagine, many people are outraged, while other people are ecstatic. For conservatives, it's another step in the right direction for the Supreme Court. For liberals, it's another slap in the face and a clear indication that the court is operating based on political bias and not neutral interpretation of the law.

Some people are calling for Scalia to resign, which may be appropriate in this situation. However, I doubt it will happen. As long as Scalia refuses, there's really not much anyone else can do.

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