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Why Did Nightline Lie About Scalia’s Speech?

This is a little long but worth the read because it exemplifies our one party media's never-ceasing efforts to distort any and all information to forward their masters at the DNC's agenda.

First, the earth-shaking EXCLUSIVE scoop from ABC News that Judge Scalia was playing tennis while John Roberts was being sworn in:

Scalia Playing Tennis  

In a "Nightline" exclusive, ABC News chief correspondent Brian Ross investigates why Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia missed John Roberts' swearing-in ceremony as chief justice to play tennis.

EXCLUSIVE: Supreme Ethics Problem?

What Was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Doing on Day of Supreme Court Swearing-In?


Jan. 23, 2006 – At the historic swearing-in of John Roberts as the 17th chief justice of the United States last September, every member of the Supreme Court, except Antonin Scalia, was in attendance. ABC News has learned that Scalia instead was on the tennis court at one of the country's top resorts, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bachelor Gulch, Colo., during a trip to a legal seminar sponsored by the Federalist Society.

Not only did Scalia's absence appear to be a snub of the new chief justice, but according to some legal ethics experts, it also raised questions about the propriety of what critics call judicial junkets.

"It's unfortunate of course that what kept him from the swearing-in was an activity that is itself of dubious ethical propriety," said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, who is a recognized scholar on legal ethics.

Scalia Mum

Scalia spent two nights at the luxury resort lecturing at the legal seminar where ABC News also found him on the tennis court, heading out for a fly-fishing expedition, and socializing with members of the Federalist Society, the conservative activist group that paid for the expenses of his trip.

At a press conference, almost two weeks later, Scalia was not inclined to tell reporters his whereabouts during Roberts' swearing-in.

"I was out of town with a commitment that I could not break, and that's what the public information office told you," he said.

It "doesn't matter what it was. It was a commitment that I couldn't break," Scalia continued when questioned further.

According to the event's invitation, obtained by ABC News, the Federalist Society promised members who attended the seminar an exclusive and "rare opportunity to spend time, both socially and intellectually" with Scalia.

"I think Justice Scalia should not have gone on that trip for several reasons," Gillers commented. "They are a group with a decided political-slash-judicial profile."

One night at the resort, Scalia attended a cocktail reception, sponsored in part by the same lobbying and law firm where convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff once worked.

"You know a lot of people would be embarrassed at that. I don't think Antonin Scalia will be embarrassed," Gillers continued.

Other Justices Received Gifts

While there are ethics rules in place for lower federal court judges, there is no explicit code of ethics for the nine Supreme Court justices. Some practices have in turn come under scrutiny, such as accepting trips from groups with political and judicial agenda and gifts from private parties who may at some point have business before the court.

Ron Rotunda, a law professor at the George Mason School of Law, author of a textbook on legal ethics and who is himself a member of the Federalist Society, finds no problem with the Supreme Court justices attending events sponsored by the organization. "I'm a member of the Federalist Society, the NAACP, and the justices get invited to both, and I think that's a good idea," he said. "The organization doesn't have litigation before the judge and is unlikely to have litigation before the judge."

An examination of the Supreme Court disclosure forms by ABC News found that five of the justices have accepted tens of thousand of dollars in country club memberships. And Justice Clarence Thomas has received tens of thousands of dollars in valuable gifts, including an $800 leather jacket from NASCAR, a $1,200 set of tires, a vacation trip by private jet, and a rare Bible valued at $19,000.

"The rules dealing with gifts don't apply to Justice Thomas because the rules only apply to lower court judges," Gillers explained. "People give gifts to judges and justices because they have power. And they have power because of their position that they hold in trust. And to suggest that it doesn't matter, no one will care, seems to me to be whistling in the dark."

At a Crossroads

Some argue that the Supreme Court justices are setting a bad example for other judges, who have been criticized for accepting free trips to luxury resorts for education seminars.

"I think the judiciary is really at a crossroads right now. There is a multibillion-dollar influence peddling industry in Washington, and it really has the federal judiciary in its sights at this point," Doug Kendall, director of Community Rights Counsel and author of a study on trips for judges, said.

The issue of accepting paid trips found its way into the confirmation hearing for now Chief Justice John Roberts.

"So I'd like to know, Judge Roberts, if confirmed, whether you will use your power as chief justice to set a high ethical tone," Senator Russell Feingold, D-Wis., asked.

In reply, Roberts said, "Well, I don't think special interests should be allowed to lobby federal judges. Stated that way, I think the answer is clear."

Roberts, Scalia and Thomas declined comment and requests for interviews by ABC News. A spokesman for the Federalist Society also declined to comment.

But lo and behold, ABC News somehow forgot to mention that Scalia had actually managed to both fulfill his commitment to teach at the (damnable) Federalist Society and still squeeze in a game of tennis over the weekend.

Nightline also flat out lied when they claimed the Federalist Society "declined to comment" on their smear. The facts are quite the opposite.

We get the Federalist Society's side of the story from our friends at Human Events:

Federalist Society Slams ABC's Scalia Story: Repeat of Rather-Mapes

by Robert B. Bluey
Posted Jan 24, 2006

The conservative Federalist Society, the centerpiece of an ABC News story questioning Justice Antonin Scalia’s ethics, today compared the network’s reporting on the story to the infamous Dan Rather and Mary Mapes episode regarding President Bush’s National Guard records.

ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross reported Monday for ABC’s “Nightline” that Scalia was out of town at a Federalist Society legal seminar on Sept. 29, 2005—the day of Chief Justice John Roberts’ swearing-in ceremony. The piece contains video footage of Scalia on a tennis court at the Colorado hotel where he was presenting for a Federalist Society legal seminar.

Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo on Tuesday released a detailed rebuttal (see below) to the ABC News segment. He said it grossly distorted Scalia’s involvement in the two-day Federalist Society conference and exaggerated his time on the tennis court. Leo also questioned the legality of the video footage, which he called an invasion of privacy.

“Justice Scalia taught a comprehensive course about the separation of powers under our Constitution,” Leo said. “Reminiscent of Dan Rather’s and Mary Mapes’s false National Guard story, ABC Nightline knew in advance of airing its program that he did not simply ‘attend’ a ‘judicial education seminar,’ and it grossly misled viewers by suggesting that the event was a ‘junket’ rather than a serious scholarly program that required much work and advance preparation.”

Prior to the story’s airing Leo said he spent time on the phone on multiple occasions with ABC News Producer Rhonda Schwartz to clarify errors in the story, including her belief that Scalia was on a tennis excursion. He said Schwartz and her colleagues showed no interest in correcting the errors.

But more importantly, Leo said, is the concept ABC News suggests in the piece: that it is unethical for judges to interact with lawyers. Leo called it “absolutely absurd” that judges should be bound by some sort of “gag rule” preventing them from attending conferences such as those sponsored by the Federalist Society.

The ABC News segment featured Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, who the network calls “a recognized scholar on legal ethics.” Gillers attacked Scalia for his involvement in the conference, calling it “an activity that is itself of dubious ethical propriety.”

And as for the tennis game, Leo said ABC News’ emphasis on Scalia’s play—including video at the beginning of the segment, suggesting he was in Colorado for recreation, not business—distorts the whole story.

“The event started at 8 a.m. each of the mornings,” Leo said, “and, despite ABC Nightline’s emphasis on Justice Scalia participating in tennis at the hotel, he spent less than two hours playing the game over the course of those two days.”

Leo also said the hotel where the conference was held had denied ABC News’ request to videotape, but despite this, the network used undercover cameras in some cases. Leo called it illegal and an invasion of privacy for the hotel’s guests.

A representative of ABC News was not immediately available to respond to the Federalist Society’s charges.

Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo released the following information Tuesday in response to the ABC News report about Justice Antonin Scalia’s attendance at a Federalist Society-sponsored legal seminar last September.

Justice Scalia….Teaches A Course

The Facts

1. Justice Scalia taught a comprehensive course about the separation of powers under our Constitution. Reminiscent of Dan Rather’s and Mary Mapes’s false National Guard story, ABC Nightline knew in advance of airing its program that he did not simply “attend” a “judicial education seminar, ” and it grossly misled viewers by suggesting that the event was a “junket” rather than a serious scholarly program that required much work and advance preparation.

• Justice Scalia taught a 10-hour course while in Colorado, lecturing the more than 100 lawyers in attendance as well as answering numerous questions they presented.

• Prior to the course, Justice Scalia produced a 481-page course book containing edited cases on separation of powers issues. All attendees received the book in advance and were expected to review the material and prepare in advance of the course.

• Justice Scalia arrived and left Colorado without spending any extra days to engage in recreational activity. He arrived at the hotel the night before the course at 11 p.m., having traveled by car for three hours the night before. He departed at around 6:30 a.m. the morning after the course ended in order to fly back home. The event started at 8 a.m. each of the mornings, and, despite ABC Nightline’s emphasis on Justice Scalia participating in tennis at the hotel, he spent less than two hours playing the game over the course of those two days.

• Justice Scalia presented the course with LSU Law Professor John Baker. Both were present together on the rostrum for the ten hour course, and both received reimbursement for travel and lodging.

• John Baker received an honorarium. Justice Scalia did not.

2. Justice Scalia did not attend Chief Justice Roberts’s swearing-in ceremony at the White House on September 29 because he chose to respect a longstanding commitment to teach a course to over 100 lawyers who had traveled from at least 38 states. This was not, as Nightline suggested, missing an important Washington function so as not to miss a tennis outing.

• There was virtually no advance notice that John Roberts would be confirmed and sworn-in on September 29. It was not absolutely clear until the day before.

• Justice Scalia had accepted the invitation to teach on October 10, 2004—nearly a year before the course dates. Almost all participants had registered and paid for the course by August 2005, nearly two months in advance.

• To have cancelled just a couple of days before the start of the course would have caused many attendees to lose the money the spent on plane tickets and hotel deposits, and, as the sponsor, the Federalist Society would have faced tens of thousands of dollars in damages that would have to be paid to the hotel for breaking a contract.

3. Justice Scalia was teaching a scholarly program that was educationally rigorous and open to anyone who wanted to come.

• The course was approved by at least 30 state bars for continuing legal education credit. Most of the lawyers in attendance have to take such accredited continuing legal education programs in order to remain licensed to practice law.

• The Federalist Society welcomed anyone who wished to come to the event. Members simply were asked to pay the registration fee, and non-members were welcome to attend if they paid the Society’s nominal dues ($5 for students, $25 for lawyers) along with the registration fee. Indeed, at least 10 of those who came to the course were non-members who joined and paid the registration fee in order to attend.

• More than 100 lawyers and law students were in attendance.

4. ABC Nightline was fully aware that its piece was misleading and inaccurate, and the way in which it prepared the story bespeaks hypocrisy.

• Several hours before the program aired, the Federalist Society spoke with Nightline’s senior producer, David Scott, as well as the investigative reporter who worked on the story, Rhonda Schwartz. The Federalist Society set forth the above facts and made very clear that tennis occupied a miniscule part of Justice Scalia’s time in Colorado. Nightline nevertheless chose to lead with a “tennis outing” theme and grossly failed to present the facts surrounding the course in a way that demonstrated the amount of time and work involved.

• At least a week before this conversation, the Federalist Society had spoken with Rhonda Schwartz and informed her in explicit terms that Justice Scalia taught a 10-hour course attended by lawyers. Nonetheless, ABC’s website, on the night of the broadcast, cast the issue as Justice Scalia attending a judicial education seminar. There is a world of difference between teaching a 10-hour course and coming to a resort to hear other speakers between various recreational activities—but Nightline chose to manufacture the false impression that Justice Scalia was at a function that entailed much play and little work.

• It is ironic that, in preparing a story that seeks to make the point that judges should be held to high standards of ethical integrity, ABC itself broke the law by trespassing on private property and invading the privacy of private individuals who did not give permission to be videotaped. Indeed, ABC contacted the hotel for permission to film the Society’s activities, and permission was denied by hotel management.

The media are liars. Their mendacity is the message.

(Many thanks to Cliff Sharp for the tip.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, January 24th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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