Skip to comments.Federalist Society Slams ABC's Scalia Story: Repeat of Rather-Mapes
Posted on 01/24/2006 3:48:37 PM PST by Peach
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 Scalias ethics, today compared the networks reporting on the story to the infamous Dan Rather and Mary Mapes episode regarding President Bushs National Guard records.
ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross reported Monday for ABCs Nightline that Scalia was out of town at a Federalist Society legal seminar on Sept. 29, 2005the 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 Scalias 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 Rathers and Mary Mapess 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 storys 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 Scalias playincluding video at the beginning of the segment, suggesting he was in Colorado for recreation, not businessdistorts the whole story.
The event started at 8 a.m. each of the mornings, Leo said, and, despite ABC Nightlines 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 hotels guests.
A representative of ABC News was not immediately available to respond to the Federalist Societys charges.
Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo released the following information Tuesday in response to the ABC News report about Justice Antonin Scalias 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 Rathers and Mary Mapess 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 Nightlines 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 Robertss 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, 2004nearly 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 Societys 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 Nightlines 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 Scalias 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, ABCs 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 activitiesbut 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 Societys activities, and permission was denied by hotel management.
Mr. Bluey is editor of Human Events Online.
Check out how ABC lied about Scalia's attendance at the Federalist Society function.
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
The more they talk, the more I realize how absolutely demented they are. Whoever said that liberalism is a disease wasn't kidding.
I kinda thought it was just another crooked hit piece against a Conservative.
They are just trying to drive the point - 'Scalia is bad. M'kay?'.
Brit just covered this on his show....
They were trying to show Justice Scalia could be bought/influenced by the conservative think-tank. Shades of Abramoff.
Brit is the BEST.
yup ,... I was yappin' about this last night on a few other threads ,...
... some[not all] FReepers were aghast that I'd watch Nightline,...
... I saw just enough to know what they were up to,... smarmy s**t
To compare their unfavorable spin on his attendance to the forged documents in the Rather/Mapes story is really a stretch.
Somebody has to keep an eye on the enemy and I'm glad you're up to it.
I think the bigger story should be that a 70 year old man is getting some exercise.
You didn't read the article then. They not only mentioned he played tennis and was there, they insinuated that it was unethical. Read a little more dead and get back to me.
And, btw, it isn't my title. It's the exact title Human Events gave the article.
I think you were discussing this last night.
Well Gee ... ABC might want to information Ruthy of that also
View footage from the 2003 ACS National Convention, including a keynote address by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as well as remarks by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and former Attorney General Janet Reno.
My question is: even if Scalia were guilty of going on some vacation, so what? What are the lefties going to do about it? They can question his ethics all they want, and manufacture accusations all day, but unless they can find a truly impeachable offense, with evidence, they can't touch Scalia. He is appointed for LIFE. So what are these idiots trying to accomplish with these kinds of accusations?
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