WASHINGTON – Democrats and labor unions are targeting President Bush's nominee to serve as solicitor for the Labor Department. Bush's pick is Eugene Scalia, the 37-year-old son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Scalia has a confirmation hearing set for Sept. 20 before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Senior staff members for Committee Chairman Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., are predicting a bitter battle because they say Scalia has been critical of pro-labor laws, rules and bills.
A widely respected Washington lawyer, Scalia was a partner at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, one of the Washington, D.C., law firms whose lawyers argued on behalf of Bush before the U.S. Supreme Court during the Florida recount.
Should Eugene Scalia win confirmation and become solicitor for the Labor Department, he might have to argue cases before the Supreme Court on which his father serves as justice. It is unclear at this point if Antonin Scalia would recuse himself if such an occasion arose.
The AFL-CIO is leading the opposition research effort and has found some articles Scalia has written that critics say indicate he is not suitable to represent the Labor Department.
According to AFL-CIO research:
— Scalia questioned the validity of repetitive stress injuries in a 1994 issue of The National Legal Center for the Public Interest.
— In a Jan. 5, 2000, Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Scalia accused the Occupational and Safety and Health Administration of promulgating rules to win big labor support for Democrats.
— Scalia also suggested that union-organized shops should have to ensure safe and fair workplaces on their own and that government standards should be lifted in a Spring 2001 article in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.