Bench Memos

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ABC’s Breathtaking Scoop


From Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog on ABC’s “investigative report” alleging that Justice Scalia may have acted unethically by taking part in a Federalist Society-sponsored seminar that required him to miss the swearing-in of Chief Justice Roberts:

“I am not a legal ethics expert; far from it. This story strikes me as bordering on character assassination. (I say this as someone who is not a member of the Federalist Society.) The story quotes Justice Scalia as explaining that he missed the swearing in because of a prior commitment he could not break. The claim that he missed the event to play tennis is just absurd; this was not a tennis camp. Rather, so far as the story reveals, the program was a legal program centered around Scalia’s participation. It appears that many attendees planned their travel in reliance on his planned attendance.

“I am not a legal ethics expert; far from it. But on the facts as described by ABC (and there may be other details that aren’t known) I completely fail to see the controversy. The Federalist Society does not litigate cases. It does not (so far as I know) even take positions on judicial nominees. Events like these are similar to those hosted by the American Constitution Society, which more liberal Justices attend. These events strike me as very valuable because they expose more people to the Justices, and vice versa.”

Goldstein also links to a nice post by Orin Kerr mocking ABC’s scoop.

Just wondering: Has Stephen Gillers, the “recognized scholar on legal ethics” cited by ABC, ever reached an ethics opinion that didn’t favor liberals or disfavor conservatives? I’m sure that the answer must be yes, but I suspect that I’m not the only one who discerns a general pattern.


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