WASHINGTON - March 18 - Statement of Sierra Club
Justice Scalia misses the point. There's a problem when a Justice and a litigant meet secretly at a private hunting retreat -- regardless of what happens behind closed doors. It is the appearance of secrecy and impropriety that creates the problem, and it clearly has caused a public outcry here. If Justice Scalia and Mr. Cheney had only been so forthcoming with the facts at the outset, the public might have responded differently and this might have taken a different course. Even in light of this newly disclosed information, the Sierra Club still believes that recusal would be appropriate under the applicable legal standard.
We wish that Vice President Cheney would be as forthcoming with the details of the secret Energy Task Force as Justice Scalia has now been with their vacation together.
Last month the Sierra Club formally requested the recusal of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from its case against Vice President Cheney and the secret Energy Task Force citing the intense public attention drawn to the January duck hunting trip taken by Cheney and Scalia. The Sierra Club reluctantly concluded that recusal is necessary to "redress an appearance of impropriety and to restore public confidence in the integrity of our nation's highest court." At the time Sierra Club made its motion, Justice Scalia had declined to reveal any of the facts revealed in today's opinion, and the public was in an uproar over the appearance of impropriety.
Sierra Club is suing Vice President Cheney and the Energy Task Force under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), seeking an accounting of energy industry participation in crafting the Bush Administration's destructive energy policy, which relies on subsidies to polluting and outdated fossil fuel industries. The District Court ordered the Administration to provide information about participation from these industries, which the Bush Administration refused to do, claiming Constitutional immunity from such inquiries. The District Court rejected that contention, pointing out that the Administration was attempting to "cloak what is tantamount to an aggrandizement of Executive power with the legitimacy of precedent where none exists." The Administration appealed, asking the D.C. Circuit to make new law that would effectively shield it from any legal scrutiny. The Circuit Court denied their request. The Bush Administration appealed to the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on April 27.
Copies of Sierra Club's brief is available at http://www.sierraclub.org/environmentallaw/