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Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Scalia’s Turkey trip paid by KU

Supreme Court justice helped teach study abroad course

August 30, 2006

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Kansas University's School of Law footed the bill for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's 11-day trip to Istanbul last year, according to the justice's financial disclosure report released Tuesday.

KU officials defended the move - orchestrated while Steve McAllister led the law school - and maintained it was not connected to another issue raised in 2004 about Scalia's ties to McAllister.

"To the extent there was any concerns there, I don't think they applied here," McAllister said. "This was just him coming over (to Turkey) to teach about constitutional law."

Typical practice

Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court's most frequent traveler in 2005, took 24 expense-paid trips last year, including the one to Istanbul on KU's dime.

With help from two other institutions, KU organizes a study abroad program in Istanbul. This year, the program invited and paid for the hotel and airfare of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to teach a course, KU spokesman Todd Cohen said.

Cohen said the practice is typical and benefits students. And, he said, the school's ties to the highest court speak highly about KU's program. He said the justices are paid using private funds.

"We want to attract top students to this," Cohen said. "We want students to learn from this. What better way than to learn from a U.S. Supreme Court justice?"

KU students pay about $4,950 for the Istanbul program, not including airfare. They take courses on comparative constitutional law, international tax law, international mediation and arbitration, and other topics. Faculty on the 2006 lineup included McAllister, Ginsburg, a Georgetown University professor, and others from KU and the other sponsoring institutions: South Texas College of Law and William Mitchell College of Law.

The justices teach for two of the program's four weeks.

Gail Agrawal, KU's new law dean, said it's not at all unusual that those making the commitment to teach have their expenses paid. She said it's an honor to have the justices participate.

"I think it's perfectly consistent with KU's mission," she said.

Scalia was reimbursed $14,129 for his 2005 trip, with airfare making up more than $6,000 of the bill. Cohen said Tuesday he did not know the exact costs for Ginsburg's trip, but said they likely were similar.

"It'd be nice if they did it pro bono, but that's not the arrangement," he said.

McAllister said he thought Scalia stayed at a Hilton hotel while in Istanbul.

"It's a decent hotel," he said. "I don't think it's among the world's most elegant."

He said the goal is to find lodging that meets standards and is secure.

"We weren't trying to enrich him," he said. "We were just trying to make sure he'd be comfortable."

McAllister led KU's law school from 2000 until August 2005, when he resigned to return to teaching.

Previous connections

In 2004, he defended his actions in another incident involving Scalia. Media reports brought to light an incident in 2001 when Scalia went on a hunting trip arranged by McAllister within weeks of hearing two cases in which McAllister was the lead attorney.

In one case, McAllister and then-Kansas Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall defended a state law to confine sex offenders after their prison terms. In the second case, McAllister led the state's defense of a prison program for treating sex criminals.

"I didn't think that was a big deal either," McAllister said of the hunting trip issue.

As for the Istanbul trip, McAllister said there are no pending cases that would pose any conflicts.

Disclosures

The financial disclosures showed that Scalia also is one of at least six millionaires among the nine justices, with assets of $1.1 million to $2.6 million.

The bulk of his holdings are in a trust valued at $500,000 to $1 million, a money market fund with $250,000 to $500,000, and a retirement fund from his days as a law professor that is worth $100,000 to $250,000.

Scalia supplemented his $203,000 annual court salary with $21,900 for part-time teaching and a book review in the conservative journal First Things.

Like other federal officials, the justices each year report their assets, including gifts and earnings, but in broad ranges of thousands of dollars instead of exact amounts. In addition, the justices are required to provide some details of reimbursements they receive for travel.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy took 15 expense-paid trips in 2005, and Justice Stephen Breyer made 14.

The other millionaires on the court are Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens. Justice Samuel Alito might be in that category as well, with assets of $665,000 to $1.7 million.

Justices are paid $203,000 each year. The chief justice's salary is $212,100.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments

lunacydetector 8 years, 4 months ago

i like scalia. he is a good decent man. i am amazed to say that i am proud of KU for footing the bill. every liberal attending or teaching at KU should be pleased.

however, i am not pleased with KU paying for ruth buzzi ginsberg's trip. http://www.collectinghollywood.com/RBuzzi.htm

she's a kook.

KS 8 years, 4 months ago

Did I miss something? Why Turkey? Couldn't they have done this same class at the Holiday Inn in Lawrence?

Kuku_Kansas 8 years, 4 months ago

Why is this news worthy????

Fact: A summer study abroad legal program has existed for some time. KU students do/have attended. US Supreme Court Justices have participated in this event in years past.

Fact: Justice Scalia attended Lawrence's KU campus to meet/greet with KU School of Law students at Green Hall and provided a lecture later that evening for the community.

Fact: Justice Scalia was compensated for his speech.

Fact: Justice Scalia participated in the KU School of Law study abroad program in Turkey, as a guest of KU, whom footed the bill.

Fact: $14,000 bill probably also includes Secret Service protection since he is overseas.

Fact: Justice Scalia went to help study abroad. Hopefully he took advantage of the opportunity and helped KU students study several broads. (Just checking to see if you're reading)

ronwell_dobbs 8 years, 4 months ago

I have to agree. What exactly is newsworthy about this? I did click on the headline because I thought it had to do with funding a turkey-hunting trip, which would raise the question about what KU was doing paying for it.

I can't say I really like Antonin Scalia, but he does bring a principled opinion to what he says (even if the principles would be more at home in 1930's Deutschland than 21st century America).

KS 8 years, 4 months ago

I think Scallia is the best justice on the court. Wish we had several more like him. I also agree, it is not newsworthy.

Dani Davey 8 years, 4 months ago

"Did I miss something? Why Turkey? Couldn't they have done this same class at the Holiday Inn in Lawrence?"

KU Law has a study abroad program in Istanbul, Turkey every summer, part of which studies comparative constitutional law. It's open not just to KU students but any student who has completed an ABA approved 1L curriculum and is in good standing with their school.

Frank Smith 8 years, 4 months ago

The relationship between Scalia and McAllister has been brought into serious question before. Scalia, who always has a good reason for making the wrong decision, should be familiar with the precept, "Caesar's wife should be above suspicion." One wonders how many days he actually spent lecturing on that 11-day trip? Did he stay at the Hilton Istanbul, in its 635 sq. ft. "Deluxe Room," "pampering (himself) in the marble bathroom," or working out on the track, swimming in one of the two pools, or lounging in either Turkish bath. Maybe he opted for the more modest 430 sq. ft. "Guest Room"?

One assumes the flight should have cost about $4,000 or less, first class. Why $6,000? Did KU pay for his wife?

james bush 8 years, 4 months ago

Good question Sophia: Why IS this news?!!

Jamesaust 8 years, 4 months ago

This is not news.

KU hosts an international summer legal program (with, I believe, a local law school). Its in Turkey. An important U.S. judge agrees to do a seminar for 2 weeks during his summer vacation. University pays the expenses for this. University basks in the prestige.

I suppose Scalia could have arranged a "state" trip to have tea with Turkish judges, chit-chat about comparative death penalty policies or bankruptcy law and billed it all to the taxpayer. At least here, we got some work out of him.

The implication here - supported by no evidence - is that connection by connection judicial results are swayed because the being under the robe has a life and doesn't exist solely on Mount Olympus (alternately, because Scalia is worth more than the average reporter, he should 'donate' his wealth to defray any expenses for the contribution of his insight and time). That's a fairly stupid implication.

Query: If Bill Clinton agreed to teach some class on politics at KU for a semester, and KU not only paid him a salary but paid for expenses like housing, transport, etc., would there be a LJW article beginning: "Kansas University's School of Arts and Sciences footed the bill for former President Clinton's semester seminar last year. KU officials insisted it was not "payback" for several federal educational grants to the University in the 1990s when Clinton was in office."?

Eride 8 years, 4 months ago

"Query: If Bill Clinton agreed to teach some class on politics at KU for a semester, and KU not only paid him a salary but paid for expenses like housing, transport, etc., would there be a LJW article beginning: "Kansas University's School of Arts and Sciences footed the bill for former President Clinton's semester seminar last year. KU officials insisted it was not "payback" for several federal educational grants to the University in the 1990s when Clinton was in office."?"

This is the LJW, I would expect no less!

Eride 8 years, 4 months ago

This is hardly news, Justice Scalia taught as part of a summer study abroad program and was paid using private funds for his services. I don't see what the big problem is, oh wait, I forgot... Lawrence is the 21st century Soviet Union! Heaven forbid anyone be compensated fairly for their time and effort.

bunnyhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

if it smells like a rat and looks like a rat..........and scalia is involved................

the words JUSTICE and scalia simply don't belong in the same sentence!!!!!!

Linda Endicott 8 years, 4 months ago

Maybe it's all above-board and legal, but I just don't get it. Can't he afford to pay for his own trips? Isn't the government paying him enough?

I wonder the same thing about people in Congress.

KULawStudent 8 years, 4 months ago

As a student at KU Law School I can tell you that it does not matter to many of us which side of the bench he sits on when it comes to our education. In the past two years both Justice Ginsberg and Justice Thomas have come to KU to lecture and teach classes. I and my classmates were honored and impressed by both of their presence. Supreme Court Justices who spend a part of their vacation teaching should be compensated. Had I had the funds to go to Istanbul, I would have felt extremely privileged to learn from one of the most brilliant legal minds in the country, even if I don't agree with his decisions.

BOE 8 years, 4 months ago

" Posted by crazyks on August 30, 2006 at 2:15 p.m.

Maybe it's all above-board and legal, but I just don't get it. Can't he afford to pay for his own trips? Isn't the government paying him enough? "

===

Actually, the Gov doesn't pay them enough and should move their pay scale up a minimum of 50%, IMO.

I can't stand Scalia, but I don't have a problem with KU paying for his trip or other Justice's trips, regardless of their personal wealth.

It's a good thing for KU, good for the U.S. and its relations with Turkey, and a good thing for Turkey, as well.

Pretty much win-win all around.

KS 8 years, 4 months ago

Scalia is without a doubt one of the best justices the court has seen in a long time. I totally support him. I understand why the left doesn't like him. He uses logic in his decisions. Something the school systems in this country stopped teaching about 40 years ago. Go Tony!

lubyloo 8 years, 4 months ago

This doesn't suprise me. I went to law school in Oklahoma and we always tried to get the Supreme Court justices to come to our school. Our law school dean told us that Scalia was the only one who said that he wouldn't come unless he received a large fee. None of the other justices who came during the dean's tenure made this demand

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