Scalia thinks you should f**k offâ€¦
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The New York Observer reports,
On March 26, after receiving communion at a special mass for politicians and lawyers in Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Justice Scalia answered a reporter's question with a rude hand gesture. Asked whether some Americans doubt his impartiality, he replied, 'You know what I say to those people?' and then flicked his fingers under his chin, adding, 'That's Sicilian.'"
Maybe that's acceptable at those "special masses for politicians and lawyers", but the Boston Herald opines that the gesture occurred "just feet from the Mother Church's altar."
Scalia just can't seem to get enough of the limelight. Earlier this week, as Rachel noted, Scalia was busy speaking his mind on what rights he thinks should be afforded Guantanamo detainees under the U.S. Constitution and international conventions. Easy to summarize, really: None. But he didn't stop there. Scalia went on to note that, "If [a prisoner] was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs."
Is one of the privileges of becoming a Supreme Court Justice that you no longer have to read the news? Recall a recent study of the 500 some Guantanamo detainees, based on government documents that found the "battlefield" is not where many of these prisoners were found. Rather, most were captured in Pakistan.
Out of the 132 men, 75 are not even accused of acts against the United States. Most, when captured, were innocent of any terrorist activity, were Taliban foot soldiers at worst, and were often far less than that... And much of the evidence -- even the classified evidence -- gathered by the Defense Department against these men is flimsy, second-, third-, fourth- or 12th-hand. It's based largely on admissions by the detainees themselves or on coerced, or worse, interrogations of their fellow inmates, some of whom have been proved to be liars.
So should he be recused in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case regarding the rights of Guantanamo detainees currently being heard by the Supreme Court? Well, probably. But then where would the government's defense be? Law.com notes, "At times, Scalia appeared to take over [government lawyer Paul] Clement's argument, answering points made by Kennedy, Souter, and Justice Stephen Breyer. 'There were moments when Clement seemed to be a bystander,' said Deborah Pearlstein of Human Rights First."
Be sure to keep an eye on the Hamdan case -- it promises to put the Bush administration's claims to unlimited power on trial. And no worries about it being mired in dull legalese -- this is less about the law and more about its circumvention. Lawyer Clement is already throwing around G.I. Joe phrases like, "This is war" as a defense.
Read Dahlia Lithwick's observations of the trial thus far in which lawyer Clement claimed (Lithwick: "the way you might accidentally drop your eyeglasses in a punchbowl") that Congress had suspended the right of the Supreme Court to hear detainee cases even if it hadn't intended to. While Justice Souter didn't resort to Sicilian hand gestures, he sure did get angry at the notion that the the president can interpret Congress' intentions any way he sees fit.
Onnesha Roychoudhuri is an assistant editor at AlterNet.