The mainstream media is a generally a purveyor of trash. Media newsmen and women rarely know about the subjects they report upon. Today ABC News published a story that is especially filthy. Let's examine this trash line-by-line:
At the historic swearing-in of John Roberts as the 17th chief justice of the United States last September, every member of the Supreme Court, except Antonin Scalia, was in attendance. ABC News has learned that Scalia instead was on the tennis court at one of the country's top resorts, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bachelor Gulch, Colo., during a trip to a legal seminar sponsored by the Federalist Society.
With Professor John Baker, Justice Scalia was actually teaching a two-day course on the separation of powers. Lawyers attending the course could earn 10 CLE credits. Perhaps at the very moment that Chief Justice John Roberts was being sworn in, Scalia was playing tennis. But he was in Colorado for a good reason - to teach lawyers constitutional law.
Not only did Scalia's absence appear to be a snub of the new chief justice...
Justice Scalia had committed to teaching the course months in advance. Over 100 lawyers each spent hundreds of dollars to attend the seminar. How is keeping a commitment a "snub" to anyone? Indeed, Chief Justice John Roberts' refusal to break a commitment (even if there are bigger, better, and more important things going on) is legend. Surely someone with Chief Justice Roberts' class would understand.
The story next notes that the course was, according to Stephen Gillers, of "dubious ethical propriety." Why? Why is it unethical for Scalia, a former law professor, to co-teach a course on constitutional law? Of course, Scalia taught in a beautiful location; but CLEs are almost always held in "touristy" places. Would it have been acceptable for Justice Scalia to have taught in, say, Fargo?
The reporter next plays a favorite trick of those lacking substantive arguments: he acts like Justice Scalia wanted to keep the trip a secret:
At a press conference, almost two weeks later, Scalia was not inclined to tell reporters his whereabouts during Roberts' swearing-in.
Of course, as is plainly evident from the Federalist Society's website, no one kept this trip a secret. Indeed, it was widely advertised to many peoople lacking power and prestige - including me.
The story next suggests that Jack Ambramoff's long arm might have reached this trip:
One night at the resort, Scalia attended a cocktail reception, sponsored in part by the same lobbying and law firm where convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff once worked.
I'm not sure which firm sponsored the reception, but I do know that Jack Ambramoff worked for two super-duper large law firms. Arguing that the cocktail reception was part of widespread corruption is like saying that every reporter for ABC News is as stupid as the author of this story.
Of course, to be fair and balanced, ABC News quotes a legal ethics expert who does not see anything wrong with the trip. And of course, the reporter, in being fair and balanced, tries to undermine the expert's credibility:
Ron Rotunda, a law professor at the George Mason School of Law, author of a textbook on legal ethics and who is himself a member of the Federalist Society, finds no problem with the Supreme Court justices attending events sponsored by the organization. "I'm a member of the Federalist Society, the NAACP, and the justices get invited to both, and I think that's a good idea," he said. "The organization doesn't have litigation before the judge and is unlikely to have litigation before the judge."
I'm sure that no legal ethics expert who does not belong to the Federalist Society would have supported Scalia's decision.
Filled with material omissions, and asking the reader to draw false inferences, this article is absolute filth. I hope it receives the attention it so rightly deserves.