January 25 2006, 8:25 AM
The news is all agog with stories about Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia missing Chief Justice Roberts' swearing in ceremony because he was lecturing at a continuing legal education seminar at the swanky Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek. The seminar was hosted by the conservative Federalist Society, which paid his expenses but not a honorarium. At first, I didn't see an issue here. Even though I'm no fan of Justice Scalia, his political or judicial philosophy or his legal opinions, it was no junket in the true sense of the term. Speaking at these types of conferences is a contribution to the legal profession. But then I read this paragraph, and it dawned on me.
[Leonard Leo, executive vice-president of the Federalist Society] called the course "a serious scholarly program that required much work and advance preparation." He said Scalia prepared a 481-page course book, containing edited cases on separation of powers issues, that was given to all attendees in advance.Who prepared that 481-page course book? If it was his law clerks, then I have a problem. Law clerks are paid to work on Supreme Court business, not continuing legal education outlines for partisan law groups. Ultimately, it is the taxpayers who pay for the law clerks' salaries. If Justice Scalia comes forward and says he wrote the 481-page course book himself, I'll stand up for him. If he had his law clerks do it, then he should reimburse the Government for the time they spent on it.