Last edited: March 27, 2004

Scalia’s Fitness Questioned after Ties to Anti-Gay Group Revealed, March 9, 2004

By Doreen Brandt, Newscenter, Washington Bureau

Washington, D.C.—Details are emerging about a controversial speech delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia to an anti-gay lobby group while the Supreme Court was deliberating in the Texas sodomy case that calls into question his impartiality on the bench.

The speech was delivered to the Urban Family Council in Philadelphia, a group that while not a party in the sodomy case was fighting that city’s ordinance allowing benefits for the partners of gay and lesbian municipal workers.

Details of the $150 a plate dinner were made public today by the Los Angeles Times.

William Devlin, who founded the council, is lead plaintiff in the Philadelphia lawsuit, which is pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Both sides say the case has a good chance of reaching Scalia’s court.

Scalia declined to comment on his appearance before the group, and the organization refused to make available a copy of the speech. But, a month after the dinner, he sharply dissented from the high court’s decision overturning the Texas law.

“The court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda,” Scalia wrote for the three. He took the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench.

“The court has taken sides in the culture war,” Scalia said, adding that he has “nothing against homosexuals.”

Justices frequently address legal groups such as bar associations but in the past they avoid any connection with or appearances before partisan or activist groups that fight for those issues in court.

The Philadelphia dinner marks the third instance in which Scalia’s outside activities have created an appearance of partiality on issues before the court.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Scalia flew in January on Air Force Two with Vice President Dick Cheney to go duck hunting in Louisiana, shortly after the high court decided to hear a legal challenge to Cheney’s intent to keep information secret about his energy policy task force.

The Times also found that in November 2001, Scalia was the guest speaker at Kansas University’s Law School at a time when the school’s dean was spearheading two cases before the court.

In October Scalia ridiculed the court’s majority decision overturning the Texas sodomy law in a speech before an extreme right wing group, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

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