Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Doge Has Recused Himself?

Amazing. Antonin Scalia is actually, for once, recusing himself from a case coming before the Supreme Court, and what a case it is .

Scalia, impartial? Nooooo. Would that he had been the slightest bit ethical in recusing himself from cases in which he had a conflict of interest. Like, you know, Election 2000.

The column describes the probablity with Scalia's absence of a tie vote on the Pledge of Allegiance case. Christians, pray that just this scenario plays out!

Because if it does go that way, the tacky broach of the Separation of Church and State that is inherent in the current pledge, "Under God", will be removed.

Solicitor General Ted Olson, never that bright no matter how tumescent he may make supposedly respectable fellow-travellers like Eugene Volokh, argues that the God propaganda is benign because "In God We Trust" has been branded on money for over a hundred years. But then Olson apparently doesn't know that that unconstitutional phrase was imposed on the secular nation during the civil war and as such, is by any standard a temporary law similar to Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus (something else, come to think of it, that Ted and his cronies at Justice would like to resurrect).

Treasury Secretary Salmon Portland Chase, a vain and pious boob, was given pretty much free reign to fashion the emergency paper money of the Civil War in any way he saw fit. Thus he satisfied his two major character traits by putting his own portrait on the bills, and stamping them with a theocratic phrase. Alas, Chase's chrome dome is no longer on bills (unless you have a 10,000$ note, not minted since the late 1960s, IIRC), but we still have to live with his surreptitious little bit of fundamentalist drivel every time we handle or spend the real God of our culture.

That the two super-reactionaries of the High Court, Scalia and Clarence Thomas, are normally hesitant to recuse themselves even in the face of the most transparent conflicts of interest is of course scandalous but also of course in perfect cadence with a 30 year reactionary march against the Court's traditional ethical standards. The father of this trend was the pompous Warren Burger who in turn spread the peculiar infection (Dont recuse yourself unless the outside pressure to do so is unbearable -- and forget silly notions of conscience and the Court's ethical tradition) to then-rookie Justice William Rehnquist, who eventually replaced Burger as Chief Justice. From there on to Rehnquist's protege Scalia and his second-fiddle, Thomas.

The record of the Burger's and Rehnquist's attitudes and manoevres is well-told in Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong's The Brethren, with its memorable anecdote of the fascist Rehnquist's goofball putch moment as he yelled "Achtung!" and jumped on a cafeteria tabletop to address the clerks.