Scalia Knocked for Participating in GOP Training Session

Posted January 4, 2011 at 9:22pm

The president of a liberal interest group denounced Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday for agreeing to speak at a House GOP program sponsored by the Tea Party Caucus.

His participation in the Jan. 24 training session for new GOP Members “is just the latest in a series of actions and statements by the Justice that threaten the integrity of the federal judiciary,” Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron said in a statement.

“A cornerstone of the American legal system is the notion that judges and justices interpret the law fairly and impartially,” she said. “This fundamental principle of our democracy is undermined when Supreme Court justices serve as willing agents of a transparently political entity like the Tea Party movement, which has an aggressive legislative and judicial agenda that is directed, in part, at the Court itself.”

The office of Tea Party Caucus Chairwoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) declined to comment on the controversy. However, in a radio interview with Lou Dobbs last month, Bachmann described the training as “what the NFL does and what the baseball teams do.” The caucus plans to hold weekly training sessions.

She also listed Scalia as one of the first people to address the group of freshmen. “Justice Scalia has graciously agreed to kick off our class. … We’ll meet in the Capitol, we’ll have a seminar on some segment of the Constitution, we’ll have a speaker, we’ll have questions and answers, we’ll wrap our minds around this magnificent document,” she said.

This is not the first time that the left has questioned Scalia’s independence. Following the controversial Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision that gave George W. Bush the presidency in 2000, Democrats and liberal activists charged that he pushed for a decision favoring Bush because of his political leanings.

Scalia was again criticized in 2004 when he refused to recuse himself in a case involving then-Vice President Dick Cheney, despite their close friendship and the fact that they went on a private hunting trip together just before the court heard the case. More recently, Scalia has come under criticism for saying the Constitution does not provide protections for women from discrimination.