Judge Scalia’s rotten judgment

The problem with Fat Tony Scalia isn’t that he’s an arrogant, undignified prick unworthy of his seat; it’s where to start enumerating the proof. Take, for example, his most recent episode of injudicious behavior:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia startled reporters in Boston just minutes after attending a mass, by flipping a middle finger to his critics.

A Boston Herald reporter asked the 70-year-old conservative Roman Catholic if he faces much questioning over impartiality when it comes to issues separating church and state.

“You know what I say to those people?” Scalia replied, making the obscene gesture and explaining “That’s Sicilian.”

The 20-year veteran of the high court was caught making the gesture by a photographer with The Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston’s newspaper.

“Don’t publish that,” Scalia told the photographer, the Herald said.

He was attending a special mass for lawyers and politicians at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and afterward was the keynote speaker at the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild luncheon.

(Added link is mine.)

Unmitigated arrogance beyond a reasonable doubt? Wait, it gets better. Here’s Exhibit B:

A US Supreme Court justice has been quoted as saying that Guantanamo detainees do not have the right to be tried in civil courts.

Newsweek magazine said it had heard a tape of a recent talk given by Antonin Scalia in which he made these comments.

The report comes as the court prepares to hear a challenge by a Guantanamo detainee against US military tribunals.

The case is considered an important test of the Bush administration’s handling of its war on terror.

Lawyers for Salim Ahmed Hamdan – Osama Bin Laden’s former driver – will argue that President George W Bush does not have the constitutional right to order these military trials.

The US government has urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the case.

In a speech to Swiss law students at the University of Freiburg on 8 March, Justice Scalia dismissed the idea that detainees had rights under the US constitution or international conventions, Newsweek reported.

“War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts,” he is quoted as saying.

“Give me a break.”

Asked whether Guantanamo detainees have any rights under international conventions, Justice Scalia reportedly answered:

“If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs.

“I had a son (Matthew Scalia) on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son and I’m not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it’s crazy.”

Mr Scalia is also quoted as saying he was “astounded” at the “hypocritical” reaction in Europe to Guantanamo.

Legal experts quoted by Newsweek said Mr Scalia’s comments could compromise his position in the Hamdan case, even though he did not refer directly to it.

Hold it just a minute there, sparky. Europeans are “hypocritical”? About GITMO? Since when? Europeans have always been consistently opposed to Gitmo, so there’s no way that makes sense. Could he be alluding to the CIA’s torture flights that passed through European airspace? If so, that’s not Europe’s hypocrisy on display there; it’s the US’s, for referring to outsourced torture as “extraordinary rendition”. And Europeans have every right to be shocked and taken aback at the use of their airports as stopovers on the way to scungy places where people get disappeared or dead. Considering how deeply most of Europe opposed the war in Iraq, it’s hardly surprising that there would be outrage over these many blatant violations of international law.

And then, of course, there’s the question of just how close Judge Scalia is to Dick Cheney. Apparently close enough for the two to go duck hunting together. Conflict of interest? Quack, quack.

Creepiest of all is Scalia’s affiliation with Opus Dei. This ultra-conservative sect within Catholicism favors a downright medieval daily routine of corporal mortification. No wonder he’s so blithe about torture. To him, though, it’s probably just discipline.

What a pity he can’t take a more self-disciplined (and less torturous) approach to his job. At this rate, “Your Honor” is in danger of becoming an irrevocably tainted mode of address.

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