Friday, February 24, 2006


Over the weekend, the time this most secrete and incompetent administration announces things they want to slip under the rug of our attention, Justice Alito hired 37-year-old Adam Ciongoli to be one of his law clerks.

“It might raise some eyebrows,'' said Todd Peppers, author of a forthcoming book on Supreme Court clerks called “Courtiers of the Marble Palace” and an assistant professor of political science at Roanoke College in Virginia. “I can think of no other example in the modern history of the court of someone with this type of experience coming on and being a law clerk.”

It is unusual: The vast majority of Supreme Court Clerks are recent law school graduates. Ciongoli is 37, a senior VP at Time Warner Inc. He was a former clerk for Alito before going to Justice where he advised Ashcroft on terrorism issue following 9/11 and,among other issues, worked on the detention of thousands of suspects, torture guidelines and the use of military tribunals.

His responsibilities as Alito’s law clerk would include helping Alito draft opinions and prepare for oral arguments. So there is the possibility that there would be issues come to him that he had worked on as an Ashcroft aide in the Justice Department.

For example, the arrest of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla and his subsequent detention as an "enemy combatant" took place while Ciongoli was on Ashcroft's staff. The Supreme Court is currently considering whether to hear Padilla's appeal.

Of course there are ethical strictures concerning the recusal of law clerks. Clerks should not participate in cases that they worked on in a previous legal position. But considering the track record of this administration, few people would believe that ethics would ever be a consideration.

Two of the five Alito law clerks have been well ingrained in religious dogma. Hannah Smith and Jay Jorgensen worked for Justice Clarence Thomas and then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, respectively. Benjamin Horwich and Alexander Volokh came from retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

The Bush culture of corruption is firmly entrenched and now reaches its tentacles into the Supreme Court. A Court now poised to deny equality under the law to women. A Court poised to make its judgments in favor of the Bush administration, corporations and against the ordinary individual, forcing us to endure their religious intrusions into our government and even into our health and medical services.
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