Scalia's overt links with Cheney cloud any thoughts of fairnessIt isn't surprising U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is friends with Vice President Dick Cheney. The two are brothers in the elite fraternity of conservative intellectuals who rule our nation with a steely determination unprecedented in the annals of modern democracy.

It is surprising Scalia and Cheney would be so overt as they are in socializing as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on Cheney's refusal to release details about secret meetings between his energy task force and industry executives.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week Cheney and Scalia spent several days earlier this month on a duck-hunting trip together in south Louisiana, and had dinner on another recent occasion.

Such brazen fraternizing in the midst of a pending case should exceed the American people's sorely over-stretched capacity for revulsion. We expect our judges to have better judgment than to hang out with those whose cases they will be hearing.

We also deserve better of Cheney. As the nation's second-highest elected official and our prime minister in all but name, Cheney should avoid creating an appearance of disregard for the objectivity of the court.

Considering questions about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court's decision placing Cheney and President Bush in office, it seems a clear case of "rubbing our noses in it" for Scalia and Cheney to cavort. We expect more subtlety of our ruling class.

There's no real question that Scalia would rule for Cheney, social contacts or not. But basic judicial ethics nevertheless require Scalia to remove himself from this case after having sullied the appearance of fairness in this fragrant manner.

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