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U.S. Supreme Court

Guild Says Scalia’s Torture Remarks Merit Future Recusal

Posted Feb 15, 2008 2:09 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The National Lawyers Guild has issued a press release calling on Justice Antonin Scalia to recuse himself in any cases concerning harsh interrogation techniques.

The liberal group said recent remarks by Scalia in an interview with BBC Radio’s Law in Action about the constitutionality of torture indicate he has prejudged the issues. Scalia told the interviewer that physical violence barred under the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment may be allowed to extract information to prevent an imminent terrorist threat.

“Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to find out where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited under the Constitution?” he said.

No case involving torture is currently before the court, but “recent events suggest that such a case may be forthcoming,” the press release says.

Guild President Marjorie Cohn said in an op-ed published on the Jurist blog that “once again, Scalia is acting as a loyal foot soldier in the president's ‘war on terror.’ … Scalia's remarks mean he has prejudged the issues in future cases in which the Constitution might dictate the suppression of evidence because of illegal police interrogation techniques, or the right to compensation of a person whose civil rights have been violated.”

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