Scalia Unconcerned About Money in Politics; People Aren't 'Sheep'
In a television interview set to air on C-SPAN on Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed concerns today about there being too much money in politics.
"I forget what the figures are," he said, "but I think we spend less on our presidential campaigns each year when there is a presidential election than the country spends on cosmetics."
Asked about concerns regarding the amount of influence from corporations, Scalia said he thinks Americans are smarter than to be controlled by what they see on TV. "They're not sheep," he said.
"If you believe that we ought to go back to monarchy. That the people are such sheep that they just swallow whatever they see on television or read in the newspapers? No. The premise of democracy is that people are intelligent and can discern the true from the false. At least, when as the campaign laws require, you know who is speaking. You can't speak anonymously. You have to say, you have to identify the people that are giving the message."
Scalia made the comments to C-SPAN's Brian Lamb for an interview that will air this Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on the cable network's Q and A program. Scalia is on a book tour for his new book Reading Law: the Interpretation of Legal Texts, which he wrote with coauthor Bryan A. Garner.
And while Scalia said he thinks C-SPAN would broadcast Supreme Court arguments in their entirety if the court were to allow cameras, the justice said he doesn't think Americans would be served by sound bytes of video they'd be more likely to see.
They'd pay attention to clips and not the entirety of arguments that the court deals with on things like patent reform and the IRS "…with all sorts of dull stuff that only a lawyer could understand and perhaps get interested," Scalia said. "If the American people saw all of that they would be educated. But they wouldn't see all of that. Your outfit would carry it all, to be sure, but what most of the American people would see would be 30 second, 15 second takeouts from our argument and those takeouts would not be characteristic of what we do. They would be uncharacteristic."
He agreed that newspapers quote decisions and opinions, but argued there is a difference where it comes to video.
"Somehow when you see it live, an excerpt pulled out of an entire, when you see it live, it has a much greater impact. No, I am sure it will mis-educate the American people, not educate," he said.
Scalia seemed to also be tiring of questions regarding leaks -sourced from within the court- that appeared in news stories in the days following the health care decision . Some outlets reported that Chief Justice John Roberts' decision to vote with the liberals to uphold the individual mandate under Congress' taxing power had caused a personal rift between Roberts and the other conservative justices.
Asked about the leaks, Scalia at first said, "I wouldn't talk about it…"
He later added that differences of opinion have not damaged relationships on the court.
"I've criticized the opinions of some of my colleagues and we have remained friends just as they have criticized my opinions and we have remained friends. Look, this is the kind of a job if you can't disagree, even disagree vehemently, on the law without taking it personally and without hating the person who's on the other side you ought to find another job. That's it," he said.
Last week Scalia was asked by CNN's s Piers Morgan, whether he had a a falling out with Justice Roberts. Scalia said the leaks were unreliable and said, "No, I haven't had a falling out with Justice Roberts."
In the C-SPAN interview Scalia also addressed complaints that he had gone outside the record in his dissent in the recent immigration case by addressing President Obama's announcement (made after the immigration case had been argued but before it was released) of a new program that allows some young undocumented immigrants who entered the US as children to stay in the country.
Scalia said he was "surprised" by the criticism which included a call from Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. t for him to resign.
"I was surprised that anyone would have thought that the purpose for which I used the President's statement - and did not criticize the President's statement, in fact I said it might be right," he said.