Sunday, May 16, 2004
Chief justice takes flight on corporate jet to Ohio|
Chief Justice William Rehnquist took a utility's corporate jet to Ohio on Saturday so he could speak at the dedication of the state's new court building in Columbus.Do you have a case coming before the Supreme Court? You'd better find yourself a jet.
American Electric Power flew Rehnquist at the request of the Ohio Supreme Court, which plans to pay for the $3,800 flight, said AEP spokesman Pat Hemlepp. The cost is more than three times the most expensive round-trip ticket between Washington and Columbus.
The propriety of the flight was being questioned by a watchdog group, Ohio Citizen Action, because AEP is being sued by the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department for allegedly violating the Clear Air Act. The case could reach the Supreme Court.
"Clearly, this is a favor," said Catherine Turcer, a campaign reform activist for Ohio Citizen Action. "All businesses, including AEP, have things they need or want from the courts."
Justice Antonin Scalia accepted a ride on a government jet from Vice President Dick Cheney in January after he invited Cheney on a duck hunting trip to Louisiana. The trip came only about three weeks after the justices agreed to consider a privacy case involving Cheney's energy task force.