Why does Scalia hate America?
April 8, 2004 5:23 AM   Subscribe

Why does Scalia hate America? Justice "Fat Tony" Scalia orders reporters to erase tapes of one of his speeches. Aren't public servents supposed to be public?
posted by skallas (28 comments total)
Doesn't a US citizen, whether they're a Supreme Court Justice or not, have the right to decide how their own speech can be used and in what format it can be used?
posted by PenDevil at 5:37 AM on April 8, 2004

If they're speaking in public, i.e. a public High School, then it's ridiculous to expect no coverage, and he didn't specify it beforehand. And even their own school paper probably covered it. He shouldn't appear in public if he doesn't want to be heard (and it seems to me that he's been everywhere lately--didn't justices used to stay quiet?)
posted by amberglow at 5:46 AM on April 8, 2004

oops..just saw it wasn't a public school, but a private school. I'd like to see if their school paper covered it--if so, then it's fair game.
posted by amberglow at 5:49 AM on April 8, 2004

"Yeah, baby... Of course the record button is off..."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:55 AM on April 8, 2004

The real question is, why the secrecy? Is he afraid of more stuff like this coming out:
This view, according to Mr. Scalia, once represented the consensus "not just of Christian or religious thought, but of secular thought regarding the powers of the state." He said, "That consensus has been upset, I think, by the emergence of democracy." And now, alarmingly, Mr. Scalia wishes to rally the devout against democracy's errors. "The reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it, but the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible," he said in Chicago.
Come on, this guy is just a culture warrior and is hiding it from the masses.
See also: Scalia self-made martyr
In United States vs. Virginia, a case in which seven justices agreed that Virginia must open the previously all-male Virginia Military Institute to female students, Scalia exploded in rage over his notion that a "self-righteous Supreme Court, acting on its own Members' personal view of what would make a 'more perfect union' ... can impose its own favored social and economic dispositions nationwide."

And in Romer vs. Evans, in which six justices invalidated a Colorado constitutional amendment that prohibited any government entity from offering legal protections to homosexuals, Scalia reached for the weapons of class warfare in defense of anti-gay prejudice. "This Court," Scalia wrote, "has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that 'animosity' toward homosexuality is evil. I vigorously dissent." Looking back, Amar says, "These were a couple of cases where it became clear to Scalia and to the world that he was never going to be effective at convincing the middle justices to form a reliable majority for his constitutional vision." Amar, who clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun in 1990, said Scalia's dissents in 1996 "marked his marginalization in some way in building majorities."
Pen:Doesn't a US citizen....

Sorry, but when you hold PUBLIC office all that over the top privacy shit goes out the window, at least it should. What ever happened to transparency and accountability?

Scalia doesnt consider himself part of the elite class. Hilarious
posted by skallas at 6:01 AM on April 8, 2004

amberglow: I disagree, I would think that any speech made is copyrighted to the author/speaker and as such they can put any restrictions they want on it. Which is probably why he objects to there being tapes of his entire speech. I would assume he does not mind the reporters quoting parts of his speech in an article (if he did object to that then why not just ban the press entirely) but does object to their taping an entire speech, which technically is his property.

Or my understanding of copyright law could be way off.

skallas: While he may be a public official (who is not elected so I'm not sure who is accountable to, certainly not the populace) that does not deny him a right to privacy. The first amendment gives the right to privacy to all US citizens, not all US citizens minus public officials.

Whether this is actually a privacy issue versus a copyright one issue I'm not quite sure yet.
posted by PenDevil at 6:14 AM on April 8, 2004

PenDevil: Scalia is a public figure; therefore, his speeches are news, and he doesn't own the copyright on tapes other people are making (under normal circumstances; obligatory IANAL); those other people do. Do you think that Scott Peterson could demand that tapes of him in the courtroom not be broadcast? If Scalia is a private citizen, then Peterson definitely is.
posted by oaf at 6:31 AM on April 8, 2004

The deputy, who identified herself as Melanie Rube

posted by hob at 6:35 AM on April 8, 2004

Last year, Scalia was criticized for refusing to allow television and radio coverage of an event in Ohio in which he received an award for supporting free speech.

What ever happened to transparency and accountability? indeed
posted by magullo at 6:39 AM on April 8, 2004

Here's the link to that thread, BTW.
posted by soyjoy at 6:54 AM on April 8, 2004

Uh, if reporters were there, it was a "public" speech.

Reporters tape record speeches all the time. They use it to get quotes right, and to do their job. You know, reasonable, respectable actions.

How did someone so stupid get to be a member of the Supremes?

Oh, that's right... Another "fine legacy" of Reagan.

I somehow doubt that he would be affirmed 98-0 in today's political climate.

What were the democrats of the 80's thinking??????

I vaguely recall the term "rubber stamp" from the 80's...
posted by Ynoxas at 7:04 AM on April 8, 2004

I don't approve of restrictions on public speeches either, but why pick on Scalia about this? Almost all the justices place restrictions on their public speaking to one degree or another and, for example, they collectively prohibit any cameras or (usually) other recording devices during oral arguments. I see this as less of a Scalia thing and more of a Supreme Court Justice thing.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 7:11 AM on April 8, 2004

Oh, and it's too bad the justices don't open up more. Souter, especially, seems to be quite the fun loving guy.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 7:29 AM on April 8, 2004

Eaten, those restrictions are during arguments in the Supreme Court. There is a definitive need in the proceedings of the USSC for privacy, confidentiality, and candor during deliberations between the Justices. BUT...this was in a public arena, giving a policy speech to the public at large. What, he can't be held accountable for his own words now? This not only has the air if impropriety, it is inappropriate. Dude, you are in public, giving a political SPEECH.
posted by plemeljr at 7:44 AM on April 8, 2004

Souter is secretive to the point of paranoia, but he also (to my knowledge) doesn't do many public speaking engagements.
posted by tingley at 7:54 AM on April 8, 2004

    In Cicero’s Rome, having a scribe take notes was the latest thing in audio technology, and so it remained right through the days when the young Charles Dickens earned his living in the press gallery of the House of Commons. Now, though, there are more reliable ways of keeping track of what people say in important meetings. Yet there will be no official electronic recording of Bush-and-Cheney’s testimony (as there was none of Rice’s four-hour private session with the commission on February 7th), and there will be no transcript. Dickens knew how to take shorthand, but that is not among the talents found on the commission’s staff. In its details and nuances, if not in its broad outlines, the record of what the President and the Vice-President say will necessarily be incomplete. This is the White House’s choice, not the commission’s.
posted by soyjoy at 8:13 AM on April 8, 2004

Anyone want to take Scalia on his very last duck hunt?
posted by nofundy at 8:24 AM on April 8, 2004

Scalia is a perfect example of all that is currently wrong with America. Study him well, people.
posted by rushmc at 8:46 AM on April 8, 2004

plemeljr, I recognize the distinction between oral arguments and speeches (although I think oral arguments are not the same as deliberations between justices), which is why I brought it up in addition to mentioning that all the justices have restrictions on their public speaking (although unfortunately I don't have anything to cite to that, so I may be mistaken, at least about all of them imposing restrictions). Anyway, I don't have any significant disagreements with the arguments presented in this thread, and I don't want to be an apologist for Scalia on this issue, so I'll leave it at that.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 9:20 AM on April 8, 2004

We should all be thankful that Scalia said what he said in Chicago. It forced him to recuse himself from the Newdow case, raising the possibility of a 4-4 tie that would affirm the circuit court's judgment.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:06 AM on April 8, 2004

Let me see. So public figures have a higher burden of proof when trying to prove they were libeled, but they're allowed to bar electronic recordings of their speeches? So reporters are allowed to libel Scalia as long as it's done accidentally, which is more likely to happen since they can rely only on their notes when quoting his speeches. A reporter could write something blatantly untrue about Scalia's speech, say that he was relying on his own notes and must have made a mistake somewhere, and he's free to go.
posted by Tin Man at 10:54 AM on April 8, 2004

Perhaps he does not want to have his voice used in a moveon ad?
posted by thirteen at 12:37 PM on April 8, 2004

Scalia can't keep reporters from reporting what he said, but he can keep his recorded remarks from being broadcast if he didn't give permission for them to be recorded for transmission. I think.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:41 PM on April 8, 2004

Scalia can't keep reporters from reporting what he said, but he can keep his recorded remarks from being broadcast if he didn't give permission for them to be recorded for transmission. I think.

If I learned anything in media law it is that it depends on what state the recording is being done in.
posted by drezdn at 11:19 PM on April 8, 2004

The various accounts make it pretty clear that there was confusion about whether taping was allowed and that it is illegal under federal law to seize journalists' notes or tapes. You can ask them to turn the recorder off, you can tell them to leave, you can't grab their shit like a fascist pig. But mobsters like Fat Tony don't give a shit about the law.

And there's no copyright issue when a public figure is in public making a speech -- there are well-established news and public interest exceptions to any rights you have to your words.
I'm sure there are a lot of public officials who step on their own d----s who would love to bar reporters from telling the public what was said. Tough. You can't use copyright to control the news.
posted by Slagman at 7:35 AM on April 9, 2004

Sidhedevil: What you're talking about is prior restraint. There's a high standard for that -- generally national security, and even that argument didn't wash with the Pentagon Papers. That was written material, but the standard is the same. If a reporter had managed to get a tape of the event, there is no law that would have prevented it from being broadcast ahead of time. Whether Scalia would have recourse after the fact is an open question, but I suspect he'd have a hard time proving any damages -- he was a public figure making a public speech. I mean, look at the news, stuff gets leaked all the time, including recordings, that people don't want broadcast or reproduced. The news value almost always overrides any other interest. The only big exception is classified material -- and even that stuff gets published now and then. The person who did the leaking could be in big trouble if caught. In a government context, it could be a crime. In a corporate context, it could mean civil or criminal liability. But the news organization itself is generally held harmless, though it may take a lawyer or two to remind people of the law, and of course little papers in plaes like Hattiesburg are more likely to roll over than a big org like a network or major paper. A Supreme Court justice of all people knows this law intimately, which makes Scalia's thuggish abuse of the marshal service all the more appalling.
posted by Slagman at 7:43 AM on April 9, 2004

it is illegal under federal law to seize journalists' notes or tapes

So where is the enforcement/prosecution? Every day members of this government break the law...where is the accountability?
posted by rushmc at 11:06 AM on April 9, 2004

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