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February 18, 2004

Scalia At Amherst

Noel at Consent of the Governed posted about Antonin Scalia's recent visit to Amherst College in Massachussetts, and the rude reception he got there.

As a Berkeley grad, this type of idiotic and childish behavior by academics and their brainwashed students shouldn't surprise me. But still, sometimes i am shocked. i guess i'm naive enough to believe that a university is a place where the "marketplace of ideas" concept should be encouraged.

Students wore black armbands to Scalia's address. Besides it being incredibly rude, what was the point of the black armband protest? Did somebody die?

[S]tudent groups, including the Pride Alliance, the Feminist Alliance, and College Democrats, decided that . . . [d]uring Justice Scalia's lecture, according to their official 'instructions,' members of these groups will wear black armbands to symbolize their mourning over the Justice's decisions. Other groups will wave homemade signs during the lecture, stand in protest, and chant slogans.
What decisions? When was the last time Scalia voted in the majority on anything?

So childish.

A column by Ethan Davis of The Claremont Institute cites an example of the type of free discourse on might find at Amherst:

Austin Sarat, the professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought who was one of the signers of the faculty boycott letter [against Scalia], delivered a long monologue. 'The scope of legitimate debate on a college campus is narrower than in the world at-large,' he declared. 'Whether homosexuals are covered under the equal protection clause is not a debatable subject on a college campus.'
Huh? Everything should be debatable on a college campus. Isn't that called free speech? i guess not. As Davis points out, at Amherst is symptomatic of what's happening at many other universities.
Legitimate discourse . . . begins after the acceptance of a radical left agenda.

These are the same academics who complain that their ideas are censored and repressed by the outside world. But conservatives who disagree are 'divisive,' and their 'reactionary' viewpoints cannot be tolerated.

Sometimes i wonder how i managed to escape my own college education with my sanity intact.

Update: It's not always bad on every college campus. Look at this report from Powerline.

Posted by annika, Feb. 18, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


I am shocked, shocked to find commie pinko law-haters/group-thinkers at Amherst.

Posted by: Scipio on Feb. 19, 2004

I think there's a colossal difference between sitting in silent protest with a black armband (which is not inherently rude) and shouting someone down. When I was at Cal, I was very involved freshman year in anti-ROTC demonstrations (before your time, Annika, but some misguided folks actually burned down the ROTC building, Callaghan Hall, my freshperson year). I never liked the shouting, the self-righteous sloganeering. I wanted to hang with the folks who stood in silent protest.

Trying to silence one's opponents is rude and unacceptable on a college campus. Quietly making a visual statement as to your displeasure is neither.

Posted by: Hugo on Feb. 19, 2004


maybe the kids at amherst are protesting the death of credibility of a supreme court justice?

face it, the outright refusal to step away from the cheney case does tend to raise an eyebrow or two.

there is ex parte and then there is EX PARTE..

the supreme court should be far above all appearances of impropriety, and spending a weekend with someone who has a lot to lose in a case that might be decided by your vote does indeed smell a bit inappropriate.

my 2 cents


Posted by: coyote on Feb. 19, 2004

Scalia is the smartest and most articulate justice of my life time.

Compare Scalia's concise arguments in the recent Michigan affirmative actions cases to the silly blather of O'Connor et al.

The man's ability to get to the heart of the matter while always keeping the Constitution front and center is remarkable. He is a credit to the Court and to the country.

I must also admit that I love the way he skewers the Left when they try to push their inane ideas down all our throats. He does not suffer fools gladly.

Regarding Amherst, this is what the Left does. They are not now nor have they ever been interested in free speech and open debate. They are well aware that their ideas don't hold up when put to public scrutiny---especially when compared to the intellectually superior ideas of the Right. Moreover, when given a clear choice between liberal ideas and conservative ideas, Americans nearly always choose the conservative path.


Posted by: Blu on Feb. 19, 2004

ah Blu-

please take off the blinders, even if only for a moment. scalia's actions have nothing to do with left or right. the point is that he is tossing his own credibility out the window by engaging in ex parte communication with someone who has a case in his court.

there are two possible outcomes:

he finds for cheney, thereby removing any chance that his opinions are not seen as partisan political crap. this only serves to taint his leagacy. i'm sure scalia does not want his legacy to be one that screams "bought and paid for".


he finds against cheney in order to save face, thereby screwing the conservative cause of keeping the vp's energy discussions secret. i'm pretty sure that no one on the republican side of the fence wants those dicussions made public, as it would indeed add to list of problems facing the current administration.

if anything, consevatives should be very concerned about such a breech, as any short term victory (cheney winning his case) would be grossly overshadowed by the fact that this inappropriate behavior might well take the teeth out of any future rulings scalia might make. not to mention that the whole thing only serves to chip away at the honor and reputation of the supreme court. those nine are supposed to be above back room politics..

if i were a conservative, i'd be worried shitless that scalia will save his own reputation rather than look like a corrupt ass in the history books.



Posted by: coyote on Feb. 19, 2004

Judges hate to recuse themselves even when the conflict seems obvious. It's sad. Take for instance Judge Warren, who's going to hear the injunction case against what Mayor Newsom is doing in San Francisco. Judge Warren is gay. Conflict? He apparently doesn't think so.

Posted by: annika! on Feb. 19, 2004

Annika, does that line of reasoning mean that Thurgood Marshall should have recused himself from hearing civil rights cases? Or that O'Connor and Ginsburg should recuse themselves from abortion cases? My dear girl, whom I love and admire, you come close to an unpleasant ad hominem argument there...

Posted by: Hugo on Feb. 19, 2004

Anni, this is the ilk one attracts by hanging with lawyers. Who but a bunch of naval-gazers could pervert marriage by conferring it on perverts? BTW, I slipped past these people by staying drunk most of the time.

Posted by: Casca on Feb. 19, 2004


maybe judge warren should recuse himself if he was spending the weekend with the mayor of san francisco, chasing boys or whatever.. your intolerance and prejudice are showing here :-(.

you assume that judge warren's sexual preferances will cloud his judgement when it comes to gays?

thats exactly like saying that the revered scalia would not be able to judge fairly on a case involving mr bush sr's son, you know, the guy who was VP when Ronnie Regan appointed him to the court..

im with Hugo on this one.



Posted by: coyote on Feb. 19, 2004

You don't understand the purpose of recusal. It doesn't matter whether Warren is influenced or not, if he upholds the marriages, his decision will be tainted by the perception of a conflict, the perception of bias, and for that reason he should recuse himself.

Recusal is required not because of a fear of actual bias as much as a concern for perceived bias, which casts doubt on the independence of the judiciary. Apply your own reasoning to Scalia then, why don't you. If he tells us he won't be biased, why shouldn't you believe him and just leave it at that? You said it yourself, whichever way he decides will be tainted because of the perception. That's why he should recuse himself.

It is certainly reasonable for somebody to believe that a gay judge, who is at present personally excluded from participation in marriage, might have a personal interest in the outcome of a case involving the expansion of marriage's definition. He stands to personally gain or lose a fundamental human right, depending on his decision.

The Federal Code of Judicial Conduct says: "Any justice, judge or magistrate of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." The California Code of Judicial Ethics says the same thing and adds that "a judge shall disclose on the record information that the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might consider relevant to the question of disqualification, even if the judge believes there is no actual basis for disqualification."

And i'm tired of being called prejudiced when it comes to this issue. i support gay marriage. This is a huge issue and i want to see it done right, especially since most of the country is against it. How does that make me prejudiced?

Oh, and, Thurgood Marshall, a personal hero of mine, didn't judge cases like Brown vs. Board of Education because he wouldn't have been allowed to! That's why he argued them instead. And if O'Connor and Ginsberg were pregnant and planning to have an abortion at the time they were hearing an abortion case, absolutely, they should recuse themselves.

End of rant. You know i still love you guys.

Posted by: annika on Feb. 20, 2004

First: I know the question was rhetorical, but I can't resist responding. The last time Scalia voted with the majority was January 26--the last time the Court issued opinions. Scalia's most famous for his dissents, but he doesn't always dissent!

Second: I think the case for recusal for Scalia is much stronger than for Warren. There has to be a reasonable limit on what factors require recusal. Every judge has some interest in most cases, even if it's only in the sense that he agrees or disagrees with the legal principle(s) pertinent to the case. The fact that a judge may have a personal policy preference on an issue does not automatically give rise to a reasonable inference that the judge will allow that preference to improperly influence his decisions (imho, of course). I think the fact that a judge is a member of a minority group is too weak a basis, without more, for requiring that judge to recuse himself from cases involving that minority. It requires us to infer something about the judge's preferences based on his class membership (always an iffy proposition), AND to assume that this speculative, inferred preferences will improperly influence him. By that rationale, it would seem to me that no judge who's a member of a racial minority should ever sit in an employment discrimination or similar civil rights case brought by a minority (or at least a minority from the same group as the judge), no woman judge should ever sit in a sexual harassment case brought by a woman, and very few judges should ever sit in cases involving age discrimination (since judges tend to be older folks). Similarly judges who are devout adherents of most mainstream religions (like Scalia) shouldn't sit in cases involving asserted gay "rights" (since nearly every orthodox religion implicitly or explicitly condemns the idea of gay marriage), and judges who are gun owners shouldn't sit in cases construing the Second Amendment or state equivalents. Etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Of course these are ultimately metaphysical arguments. There's no way for us to know to a certainty what is going on or will go on in a judge's head, so typically all we can do is make educated guesses about what's likely to unduly influence him/her. But those guesses can't be knee-jerk; there has to be a little reasoned analysis. It's not "unreasonable" in the common sense of the world to think that membership in a general class is prima facie evidence of potential bias significant enough to require recusal. But I think it's "unreasonable" in any sense of the word that takes into account the realities of our judicial system.

Posted by: Matt on Feb. 20, 2004

Chief Justice John Marshall refused to recuse himself from several cases that he had been involved in; one where he had been a lawyer for one side; another where he had been a judge on the case previously; and a third where he had a demonstrable pecuniary interest in the case.

Quack quack, baby. Quack quack.

Posted by: Scipio on Feb. 20, 2004

well said Matt.

and Annie-

What i meant about the prejudice is along the lines of what Matt has written. you pre judged that warren cannot make a just ruling because he belongs to the minority involved in the case.

the whole anology is some distance from scalia's predicament, when a week-end long ex parte sesssion with someone who has a case in front of him is most certainly a valid reason for a recusal.

but.. from the arguments you have made, it appears that you would indeed agree that scalia's best course would be to recuse himself.

if that is the case then i wonder how far off the kids at amherst actually are by letting scalia know their feelings.




Posted by: coyote on Feb. 20, 2004

I suspect the little spoiled brats at Amherst aren't concerned about Scalia's friendship with Cheney and its impact on any potential court proceeding.

Liberal students/professors engage in this type of intimidation constantly when conservatives come to campuses to speak regardless of the speakers content or current political activities. Interesting that one rarely (if ever) hears about conservatives shouting down liberals "thinkers."

Probably has something to do with superior manners and intellect.....:)


Posted by: Blu on Feb. 20, 2004


once again you have typed much and said little.



Posted by: coyote on Feb. 20, 2004

"my freshperson year"

Is this a joke? If not it's really fucking sad!

Posted by: Radical Redneck on Feb. 20, 2004

damm redneck.. you make even dumbass rednecks look like einsteins. the real definition of sad is that all you can add to this conversation is that bit of crap above.

tisk tisk


Posted by: coyote on Feb. 20, 2004

Brilliant rebuttal! When are you doing Vegas?

Figures that an emasculated, no-dicked, eunuch bitch (only canine name which you're worthy) would think that's just swell.

Stop bobbing for the "presents" the other inmates left you in the toilet.

Now get off the Short Bus and take a nice high majestic dive onto the Interstate.

Posted by: Radical Redneck on Feb. 21, 2004

im tempted to keep you going, as you dig deeper each time.

but alas, i feel for Annie and her fine blog..

i'm done.


Posted by: coyote on Feb. 21, 2004


Do you deny that the left engages in these shouting tactics infinitely more than the right?

Anyway, my initial post was just to point out Scalia's brilliance in an age of mediocre supreme court judges. In addition, I noted that it's pathetic that the left constantly feels the need to try and silence conservatives in academic settings. I didn't have a position on whether Scalia should step down in this particular case.

After reading your and others arguments about Scalia's need to recuse himself, I am persuaded that your position is correct.

So, go easy on me. I haven't been posting much so I'm sure that my cognitive skills are rusty and in need of exercise:)


Posted by: Blu on Feb. 21, 2004

"i'm done"

That's right, you have nothing so you run away again. Just like you slithered away at the Rott when you got your moonbat ass reamed every which way in record time. Haven't been back to tell everyone how above it you are (while never giving anything more substantial than "I'm rubber, you're glue) have you?

You are a transparent simpleton under delusions of adequacy. You throw around weak shit and run away shocked the second your superiors slam you back. Nobody believes, or is impressed, with your tired, predictable "I'm so much smarter than you" response. Just because you always were in the "special" classes doesn't make you the least special. They lied to you!

Now take you unearned superiority back to Dullard Underground.

Posted by: Radical Redneck on Feb. 21, 2004

Ah, let him go... he's a tedious cockbiter.

Posted by: Casca on Feb. 21, 2004