Monday, November 28, 2005

The appearance-of-ridiculousness standard
Pride Goeth Before the Court

By Al Kamen

Liberals went into high whine mode when the Supreme Court agreed to hear Republican George W. Bush 's appeal in the 2000 Florida vote dispute. They said the high court lacked grounds to agree to hear the case.

But, as it turns out, it had ample grounds, more grounds than anyone knew. Traditionally, the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case to resolve different lower court rulings, if it is of great importance or if there's an important constitutional question involved.

However, as the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist noted, granting certiorari is really a "subjective decision," or as the late Justice John Marshall Harlan said, "a matter of feel."

Justice Antonin Scalia cited a heretofore unknown but important criterion: national pride.

Scalia unveiled the new criterion at a supposedly off-the-record chat last week at Time Warner headquarters with Time Inc. Editor in Chief Norman Pearlstine and Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons and numerous journalists.

(Read on . . .)

On the 5 to 4 ruling in Bush v. Gore that made Bush president, New York Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove reports that Scalia said: "What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough? Or give the Florida Supreme Court another couple of weeks in which the United States could look ridiculous?"

Ah, yes, the old appearance-of-ridiculousness standard.