I guess it gets down to just not caring about appearances. Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justices, dined with some very powerful people just the other night. That, in itself is not worth a blog post. It just happens that these people will be the lead lawyers in the challenge to the Affordable Health Care Act before the Supreme Court in March. That matters.
Judges at all levels should at the very least look like they have not formed an opinion before a case is argued in their court. Judges at the federal level are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate to keep them out of politics and party positions. If they did belong to a party, it might affect their judgment on cases that come before their court. When nominated, the prospective judge comes before the Senate Judiciary committee to seek approval. At that hearing, it is expected to hear them say that they can’t comment on issues that might come before the court. That might indicate that they are not approaching each case with an open mind. There are many other situations that they should avoid that might prejudice their opinion about issues.
So why is it okay for Scalia and Thomas to have dinner with the lead challengers to the Affordable Health Care Act? This wasn’t just a dinner with some friends. It was a banquet for the Federalist Society. It is an organization that advocates for conservative ideas in government. The dinner was sponsor by two law firms, Bancroft PLLC and Jones Day. Both will be representing conservative interests in their challenge before the Supreme Court. Scalia and Thomas are the featured quests.
Scalia and Thomas have long histories of supporting conservative ideas. This is, of course, their right as citizens of the United States. But, when they are the featured quests at a dinner that wants to get rid of the Affordable Health Care Act, it is no longer just a personal opinion. It is an appearance of already forming an opinion.
This is not in the best interest of our community.