Turtle Bay

Did Justice Scalia really call the ICC a kangaroo court?

Did Justice Scalia really call the ICC a kangaroo court?

I’ve been reading Kofi Annan‘s upcoming memoir, Interventions: A Life in Peace and War, and just ran across a fascinating passage describing a friendly luncheon, well maybe not so friendly, the then-U.N. chief had with the Supreme Court justices during a visit to Washington, D.C.

Justice Stephen Breyer had invited Annan to sit for "salads and sandwiches" with the Supremes, apparently part of a local D.C. tradition for famous visitors.

The conversation turned to the establishment of an International Criminal Court, which was established in 2002 to prosecute individuals for massive crimes, including genocide and war crimes. And it quickly grew contentious.

"I’ll be damned if I’m going to let my son be dragged before some foreign kangaroo court to face judgment," said one of the judges, who is not named, but is said to have a son who had served as a U.S. Army captain in Iraq. (Justice Antonin Scalia’s son, Matthew, served as a U.S. Army captain in Iraq.)

Annan appeared to have been taken aback by the reaction, saying that while he knew that many American politicians and commentators were hostile to the court he was surprised to here it put so bluntly by a Supreme Court Justice.

"I tried to reassure the irate justice about the procedures that were in place to stop frivolous prosecutions; that the ICC would act only when there was a credible accusation and the state in questions was unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute the matter," Annan wrote. "He was unconvinced."

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch