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Justice Antonin Scalia, combative hero of the right, wisecracking inquisitor from the bench, father of nine — and fearsome hunter? Seems so. The red-meat conservative turns out to be quite a marksman. He took just three days to shoot his annual quota for turkeys in Mississippi last year, and this year has bagged a 13-point buck. He often hunts in the Louisiana swamps, or with friends in Illinois or on Long Island. He has a freezer out in the garage stuffed with game. These details are part of a profile of Scalia in the May issue of GQ. The men’s-magazine piece focuses less on Scalia’s brainy brand of conservative thought and more on his masculinity. Thus we learn that Scalia hunts with his grandfather’s rifle, plays poker with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, likes a good steak and smokes a Benson & Hedges after lunch. He favors a certain cavelike Italian restaurant in Washington where the waiters know him so well he merely grunts in greeting. They already know his order. When Scalia got home to suburban Virginia close to midnight on the night of the court’s decisive Bush v. Gore ruling, his wife had two chilled martini glasses ready for him.
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One of those nine Scalia children (all are grown) is President Bush’s choice to be a top lawyer at the Labor Department, the White House announced last week. Eugene Scalia is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the same Washington law firm that represented Bush when his postelection legal fight came to the Supreme Court. Scalia, a labor and employment specialist, has said he did not work on the case. Under Supreme Court ethics rules he got no share of the firm’s profits from fellow partner Theodore Olson’s courtroom work. Olson is Bush’s choice to be the administration’s lead Supreme Court lawyer. Gibson, Dunn’s lengthy Republican credentials include work for Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr was also a partner there. The apple did not fall far from the Scalia tree. Scalia the son is also outspoken and ideologically conservative. Writing last year for the libertarian Cato Institute, Eugene Scalia called proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace-safety rules “the most costly and intrusive regulation in (the agency’s) history.” The rules were adopted under the Clinton administration but scrapped by Bush.

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Speaking of lawyers with Bush connections, the GOP legal quarterback during the Florida postelection court fight made a recent appearance at the Supreme Court, where the election case was ultimately decided. Barry Richard gave a talk titled “Reflections on the Case of a Lifetime” to members of the American Bankruptcy Institute. The group rented the court’s ceremonial Great Hall with permission from Rehnquist. Rehnquist agreed to let the group use the space long before Richard was chosen as the speaker, said ABI spokeswoman Pamela Shepherd. “It was the same speech I have given six or seven times since the case,” Richard said afterward. Richard said he saw nothing unusual in the venue for his speech to the bankruptcy group, which has used the same room for previous events. He was not paid to speak, Richard said. None of the nine justices was on hand to hear Richard recap the legal strategizing that led up to the high court’s Dec. 12 decision. Reporters were not allowed inside, but Richard said he identified four key moments that turned the tide for Bush. He mentioned the Supreme Court’s role but focused on the Florida litigation, Richard said. Richard helped prepare legal papers for the high court portion of the case, but did not appear in court. Rehnquist, Scalia and Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas voted to stop Florida ballot recounts, effectively ending Democrat Al Gore’s challenge.

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Rehnquist turns out to be one of those sticklers about which year — 2000 or 2001 — really marked the beginning of the millennium. “I was one of a small minority which felt the year 2001, not the year 2000, was the … year,” Rehnquist said during a speech to an Arlington, Va., historical society last week. Calendar purists note that under the widely used Gregorian calendar, which started with the year 1, only 1,999 years had elapsed by 2000. That would mean the third millennium did not begin until Jan. 1, 2001. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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