Saturday, May 15, 2004

Et tu, Rehnquist?

Ohio Groups Question Justice's Trip on Utility Jet
Published: May 15, 2004
WASHINGTON, May 14 - A power plant company based in Ohio with a dozen cases in federal courts is flying Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to Columbus so he can deliver a speech on Saturday at the dedication of a judicial center.

The cost of using the corporate jet, which belongs to American Electric Power, one of the nation's largest utilities, is being covered by money raised from a $75-a-plate lunch after the speech at the center, the new home of the Ohio Supreme Court. But environmental groups in Ohio are expressing concern over the propriety of a Supreme Court justice's being accorded favors by a company that has so many active cases, including one that goes to trial next year involving accusations that its plant operations in Ohio violated the Clean Air Act. Environmentalists say the case could reach the Supreme Court.

The trip, first reported by The Toledo Blade, is the second in recent months by a Supreme Court justice that has prompted objections by environmental groups over the appearance of a conflict of interest. Late last year, with a case before the court involving the Sierra Club and Vice President Dick Cheney, Justice Antonin Scalia invited Mr. Cheney on a duck-hunting trip to Louisiana, and Mr. Cheney reciprocated by providing the transportation, a government jet, at no cost to Justice Scalia.
One would think that after Scalia's free vacation with Cheney, Rehnquist might be more careful about putting himself into situations that appear improper. I guess he figures the peasants aren't paying attention. Or it could be that he just doesn't care. After all, it's not like the Republican-controlled Congress would actually investigate anyone with an "R" behind their name, anyway. It would appear that we're all wearing the blue dress now.