"It’s, I think, a distraction from a great man and his legacy at a time when there’s so much to be said about that and to help people even more fully appreciate that. And, on a personal level, I think it’s a bit of a hurtful distraction for a family that’s mourning," Eugene Scalia said . . .
"He was a month shy of 80 years old. He lived this incredibly full and active life, but I knew, and he knew, that he was at a place in life where he could be taken from this world at any time," Eugene Scalia continued.
"Our family just has no doubt he died of natural causes. And we accept that. We’re praying for him. We ask others to accept that and pray for him," he added.Eugene Scalia is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson-Dunn, an international law firm with more than a 1,000 attorneys in offices located all over the world. He co-chair's the firm's labor and employment practice group. His law firm has argued more than a hundred cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, something that has not gone unnoticed by critics of Justice Scalia, who have taken aim at him in the past for not recusing himself from cases where they believed he had a conflict of interest. That criticism reached a fever pitch when one of the firm's most prominent partners, Ted Olson, argued Bush v. Gore following the 2000 presidential race, the outcome of which was determined by the razon-thin Bush win in Florida. Scalia sided with the majority decision, which effectively ended recount efforts underway in the Sunshine State initiated by Al Gore's campaign with the hope of overturning Florida's vote. Scalia's law firm represents such powerhouses as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Apple and Wal-Mart, among other corporate titans.
The Washington Post also discusses some troubling aspects of the circumstances surrounding Scalia's trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch, which his son may not wish to see delved into too closely. Scalia has frequently accepted free trips as a Supreme Court justice over the years, which have been disclosed on his annual financial disclosure statement. According to the ranch's owner, billionaire businessman John Poindexter, he charged Scalia and other guests last weekend nothing for their stay at his luxury resort where rooms rent between $400 and $900 a night. It is believed this was the first such trip Scalia had taken to this particular ranch, although he's taken other hunting trips to Texas in the past which have drawn ire, including a trip that included former Vice President Dick Cheney while his energy task force was the subject of high-profile lawsuit.
Apparently, Poindexter hosts exclusive gatherings of invited-only guests at the ranch two or three times a year where the guests stay at his ranch for free, including many celebrities. His guests have included Mick Jagger, Bruce Willis and Tommy Lee Jones. He once sued actor Randy Quaid, who later attempted unsuccessfully to claim asylum in Canada following legal troubles he faced in California over an alleged unpaid bill for a stay at his ranch. Poindexter declined to identify the Scalia friend who accompanied him on the trip to the ranch and arranged for his invitation. Particularly troubling is a mention by The Post that one of Poindexter's companies had a case before the Supreme Court just last year:
Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia was not charged for his stay, something he described as a policy for all guests at the ranch.
“I did not pay for the Justice’s trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch,” Poindexter wrote in a brief email Tuesday.
“He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others.”
Poindexter added: “The Justice was treated no differently by me, as no one was charged for activities, room and board, beverages, etc. That is a 22-year policy.’’
However, Poindexter said he did not pay for Scalia’s charter flight to Texas.
A person familiar with the ranch’s operations said Poindexter hosts such events two or three times a year.
Poindexter, who would not identify Scalia’s friend, is a Texas native and decorated Vietnam veteran who owns Houston-based J.B. Poindexter & Co., a manufacturing firm.
The company has seven subsidiaries, with combined annual revenue of nearly $1 billion, according to information on its website. Among the items it manufacturers are delivery vans for UPS and FedEx and machine components for limousines and hearses. The company has 5,000 employees, the site said.
One of Poindexter’s companies was involved in a case that made it to the high court. Last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving an age discrimination lawsuit filed against one of these companies, court records show.
The nature of Poindexter’s relationship with Scalia remained unclear Tuesday, one of several lingering questions about his visit. It was not known whether Scalia had paid for his own ticket to fly to the ranch or if someone else picked up the tab, just as it was not immediately clear if Scalia had visited before.
It is also still not known who else was at the Texas ranch for the weekend, and unless that is revealed, there could be concerns about who could have tried to raise an issue around Scalia, said Stephen Gillers, who teaches legal and judicial ethics at the New York University School of Law. He compared it to unease that arises when judges and officials from major companies are invited to seminars or educational events that bring them together for periods of time.
“People worry at those kinds of things; there’s a creation of access on the part of people with an interest in the courts, and that is unfair,” Gillers said Tuesday.So it might very well be that Scalia's trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch last weekend was not kosher, a fact that I'm sure hasn't escaped his well-trained lawyer son. Any death investigation would have led to disclosures regarding the financial arrangements regarding his father's trip, who accompanied him on that trip and the identity of the other three dozen or so guests at the ranch last weekend. Naturally, his son wants to protect his father's legacy, even if that means not ascertaining for history's sake the legal certainty that his father's death indeed was caused by natural causes.
One further note on his son's law firm. Ted Olson also represented for his law firm proponents of same-sex marriage in a case where the Supreme Court declined to overturn a lower federal court ruling paving the way for same-sex marriages in the Golden State. Scalia's father was one of the most outspoken critics of the Supreme Court's later landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriages in every state in the union. “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court,” he wrote. "This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves."