WASHINGTON - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused on Thursday to remove himself from a case about Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, even though their recent duck-hunting trip raised questions about his impartiality. "Since I do not believe my impartiality can reasonably be questioned, I do not think it would be proper for me to recuse," he said in a 21-page memorandum (.pdf) released by the nation's high court.
The Sierra Club environmental group, which sued Cheney for the task force papers, had filed a motion asking that Scalia disqualify himself from the case because the January trip had created "an appearance of impropriety."
According to the motion, Scalia and his daughter were Cheney's guests on Air Force Two on a Jan. 5 flight to Louisiana. Cheney and Scalia were guests of the president of an energy services company on a duck-hunting vacation.
"The vice president and I were never in the same blind and never discussed the case," Scalia said, referring to a shelter used to conceal duck hunters.
"Nor was I alone with him at any time during the trip, except, perhaps for instances so brief and unintentional that I would not recall them -- walking to or from a boat, perhaps, or going to or from dinner," Scalia said.
Cheney is being sued by the Sierra Club and another group. They want him to release documents about White House contacts with the energy industry in 2001. The vice president has appealed to the Supreme Court a ruling ordering him to produce the documents.
© 2004 Reuters Ltd