The Corner

Revisiting Duckhunts

A law professor writes to me to point out one weak point in my “Ducking Commonsense” piece, posted yesterday, on the Cheney-Scalia recusal controversy. I wrote that there couldn’t be any impropriety in Cheney giving Scalia a seat on his plane to Louisiana, because an improper gift must cost the giver as well as benefit the recipient. Not so, of course. The vice president, with resources at his disposal that cost him nothing personally, could in fact use those resources to influence a recipient of his largesse. Such a gift even could–under the right circumstances–constitute a “bribe.” I don’t think a reasonable observer would conclude that that’s what happened in this case, and I think the rest of my argument stands up just fine. But I shouldn’t have let enthusiasm for my argument prompt me to include one weak point, so easily rebutted.

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