Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will retire from the high court at the end of this year to pursue his lifelong dream of being a talk radio host, The Chicago Dope has learned. Scalia has penned a resignation letter and already notified his fellow justices of his intentions.
Sources said Scalia had been in talks with the producers of Rush Limbaugh’s radio show for months, but he was thought to be on the fence until recent court decisions convinced him it was time for a new career, especially following the court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act.
A copy of the letter was leaked to The Chicago Dope. In it, Scalia takes issue with Chief Justice John Roberts for his refusal to go along with the other conservatives in their efforts to overturn the ACA, also known as “Obamacare.”
Scalia wrote that he had high hopes for the court’s ability to legislate from the bench, as it did with the Citizens United decision that overturned campaign finance laws, but Roberts’ decision puts those objectives in doubt.
“This conservative court has seen fit to legislate from the bench on overturning campaign-finance laws and increasing corporate power. Then you had to go and ruin it by getting all independent on us,” Scalia wrote to Roberts. “I’ve never let scholarly ruminations get in the way of doing what’s best for the Republican Party and I don’t intend to change that.”
Scalia said he already had opinions written that would’ve overturned Roe V Wade, civil rights and environmental laws, protected corporations from lawsuits and made it harder for Democrats to vote—all of which he will hang on to in case more conservatives get appointed to the court in the future.
A Supreme Court clerk, who asked not to be identified, said Roberts siding with liberal justices to uphold the ACA was the last straw that broke Scalia’s back.
“Scalia thought the Chief Justice would be as partisan as he and Clarence Thomas are, but then Roberts went and supported Obamacare,” the clerk said. “Since then Justice Scalia has been impossible to deal with and frankly he wasn’t that pleasant already.”
While the move might strike many as unusual, Supreme Court watchers were not too surprised to see Scalia make this move. Dr. Zachary Ornstein, law professor at Northwestern University, said there were indications this would happen.
Ornstein pointed to Scalia’s behavior during legal arguments over health care reform as an example. Scalia scoffed at the idea of reading the more than 1,000 page law, ran through a list of Republican talking points over the ACA and griped about a special deal for Nebraska that wasn’t even in the bill.
“The so-called cornhusker kickback was talked about in the early stages of drafting the reform act but it wasn’t included in the final bill approved by Congress. Justice Scalia was clearly uninformed on what the law actually contained and too lazy to even care,” Ornstein said. “Should we expect a Supreme Court justice to read something he’s going to rule on? I’d say hell yes—that’s his job.”
Ornstein also pointed to Scalia’s rant from the bench over the Obama administration’s immigration policy when the court issued its verdict over Arizona’s “show us your papers” law as a clear indication that Scalia had given up any pretense of impartiality or judicial restraint.
“He sounded less like a judge and more like a right wing talk radio host. Obviously he was auditioning for his next career on that, because the president’s immigration policy had nothing to do with the legal issue at hand,” Ornstein said.
The high court’s marble walls typically yield few secrets, yet attention over health care reform has revealed a few cracks in that quiet exterior. Justices and their staffs typically offer no comments or insight into the court’s inner workings.
Scalia’s intended departure was confirmed by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during an unguarded moment at a Washington restaurant. When asked for comment, Ginsberg said it would be “good riddance” to have Scalia leave.
She noted that Scalia went hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney in 2004, while the court was considering whether Cheney’s secretive energy task force had to reveal documents relating to its work. Scalia has also not been shy about rubbing elbows with Republican politicians or conservative political donors.
“We’re supposed to be non-political on the bench, but try telling that to Antonin Scalia,” Ginsberg said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he were a keynote speaker at the Republican convention this year. Now if we can just get rid of Clarence Thomas, I’m getting tired of him goosing me in the hallways.”