The Washington Post has run a couple stories since the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, questioning the “ethics” of Scalia’s hunting trip. While no one is above the law or unaccountable, it seems a bit disingenuous to focus so much on Scalia’s hunting trip – especially in the wake of his death – at the exclusion of the First Family’s extravagant vacations, all clearly footed by the taxpayers.
One article about the “ethics” of Scalia’s hunting trip was entitled, “Justice Scalia’s free stay at luxury ranch highlights judicial ethics questions.” The other: “Justices travel often, but it’s not always clear who pays.”
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s free stay at the secluded Texas ranch where he died highlights questions about what gratuities judges can accept and whether they should socialize with people who could have litigation before the courts, legal experts say.
As Washington prepared for Scalia’s body to lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Friday, questions lingered about his final trip. Among them: Did the justice pay for his own airplane ticket to the ranch, or did someone else pick up the tab? Who else was in Scalia’s party? What is the nature of Scalia’s relationship with [ranch owner] Poindexter?
Yes, certainly those were the top three questions the American people were thinking about as Justice Scalia’s body was being laid to rest. No one was wondering about whether he was murdered and if so, by whom; or why it was decided not to do an autopsy;or why the ranch owner had to “clarify” his previous statements about the positioning of the pillow in relation to Scalia’s head. No one was asking those questions. The questions on everyone’s minds were whether Scalia paid for air travel, or if someone else did.
When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at a Texas resort last weekend, he was staying in a 1,100-square-foot, $700-anight room overlooking a lake.
He wasn’t paying, though. And while Scalia was subject to the same financial disclosure laws that govern hundreds of federal employees, it is unclear if he would have needed to disclose the trip because of a loophole in what all such employees must report.
“We live in a world now where all the Supreme Court justices are rock stars,” said Ronald D. Rotunda, a law professor at Chapman University. “They’re invited all over the place. They publish their books, they go on book tours. . . . People just like to have them around.”
Scalia was the group’s most prolific traveler since 2011, the first full year during which he and the eight sitting justices served together.
Sounds like the Clintons or the Obamas. High-profile politicians are treated like rock stars and celebrities. Just look at the extravagant vacations taken by the First Family. Check out these headlines from Judicial Watch:
- Judicial Watch: Secret Service Expenses for Obama’s 2013 Hawaii Christmas Vacation Cost Taxpayers $316,698.03, Taxpayers Paid Over $8 Million for 17-Day Vacation
- Judicial Watch: President Obama’s 2015 Golf and Family Vacation Trips Cost Taxpayers $3,115,688.70 in Travel Expenses Alone
- Judicial Watch Obtains Records Revealing Obama’s $1,176,120.90 in Transportation Expenses to Attend Political Fundraisers in Los Angeles and San Francisco
- Judicial Watch: Air Force Documents Show President Obama Ran up $1,539,402.10 in Flight Expenses Alone for Labor Day 2014 Weekend Trips
- Obama July Political Fundraising Trips to Denver, New York City Cost Taxpayers $1,159,823.50 in Flight Expenses Alone
- Judicial Watch Obtains Documents: Secret Service Tab for Obama Family 2013 Africa Trip Cost Taxpayers $2,189,727.60 for Lodging, Entertainment, and Security
- Judicial Watch Obtains Records Revealing Obama’s 2014 Palm Springs and Key Largo Golf Outings Cost Taxpayers $2,952,278 for Flight Expenses Alone
But the real story is whether Scalia’s hunting trip was paid for by him or someone else.