It’s now been revealed that the luxury hunting ranch vacation Antonin Scalia was on when he died was a gift from someone who Scalia indirectly helped with a recent Supreme Court decision.
In late 2015, the Supreme Court declined to hear an age discrimination suit (Hinga, James V. Mic Group, LLC) against a subsidiary of the manufacturing company J.B. Poindexter, which is owned by John B. Poindexter. Poindexter also owns the 30,000-acre Cibolo Creek Ranch in Shafter, Texas, where Scalia was vacationing when he died last weekend. According to the Washington Post, Scalia didn’t pay for his flight to the ranch, or for his room at the luxury ranch. His food and beverages were also free. Poindexter maintains that Scalia wasn’t given any preferential treatment, as the 36 people staying at the ranch that weekend were all staying for free.
However, the Post also reports that lingering questions remain about who else was staying at the ranch, and whether or not Poindexter or any of the ranch’s guests were trying to curry favor with the late Justice:
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.
During Justice Scalia’s tenure on the nation’s highest court, an astonishing number of decisions favored corporate plaintiffs and defendants, prompting the New York Times to call it the most corporate-friendly court since the World War II era. An op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the current Supreme Court — which, including Scalia, had the conservative majority of Roberts-Alito-Thomas-Scalia-Kennedy deciding cases in favor of big business — an “enforcer of corporate power.” The op-ed cited a professional statistical review that examined the results of over 2,000 cases:
The study published in the Minnesota Law Review ranked the 36 justices who have served in the post-WWII era in terms of how corporate-friendly their rulings have been. Not surprisingly, the five conservative members of the current high court all ranked in the top 10 most business-friendly justices to serve in that era. Four of the six most business-friendly justices now serve on the court.
Justice Scalia’s funeral is slated for this Saturday.