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The controversy over the early January Louisiana duck-hunting sojourn Justice Antonin Scalia took with Vice President Dick Cheney won’t go away. Editorialists nationwide have called for Scalia to recuse from the forthcoming case In re Cheney because of the trip. On Jan. 30, Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., asked the Court to draw up recusal procedures. Soon the talk may turn to action. The Sierra Club, one of the groups that brought the case to force Cheney to reveal information about his energy policy task force, is seriously considering filing a request with Scalia to recuse. Officials of Judicial Watch, the other party in the case, could not be reached for comment. “We certainly understand why this trip creates such public concern about the appearance of impartiality,” says David Bookbinder, Washington legal director for the Sierra Club. “But before we do anything as dramatic as asking for recusal, we want to gather the facts.” One target of his inquiry: Wallace Carline, who hosted Cheney and Scalia. Carline is president of the Diamond Services Corp., an Amelia, La., oil industry services company. According to Federal Election Commission records, Carline has donated $4,000 to GOP candidates and groups since 1998, including $1,500 to Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La. Bookbinder wants to know who paid for Scalia’s trip and lodging, and whether Carline has links to the energy task force. Carline declines comment. In unwritten Court etiquette, recusal motions are frowned upon. But the parties in Cheney are taking a cue from Michael Newdow, the atheist who asked Scalia to recuse in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow because of a speech Scalia gave touching on the issue in the case: whether “under God” belongs in the Pledge of Allegiance. Once asked, Scalia recused. Scalia, in a response in The Los Angeles Times, said he would not recuse, likening the encounter with Cheney to attending a White House dinner. “I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned,” Scalia said. The case will be argued in April. Says Bookbinder: “Sitting in a duck blind with the vice president, outside the public eye, is not the same as dinner at the White House.” For his part, Chief Justice William Rehnquist has made it clear he thinks senators should not ask justices to recuse. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., wrote Rehnquist on Jan. 22 asking about the Court’s recusal standards. Rehnquist responded that “any party to a case may file a motion to recuse,” but wrote that any similar suggestion from senators was “ill-considered.”

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