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Thread: Supreme Court Justice Scalia lashes out at student questioner

  1. #1
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Oct 2005

    Default Supreme Court Justice Scalia lashes out at student questioner

    Where others fear to tread, a 20-year-old college student from Tequesta, Fla.,boldly stepped forward Tuesday to ask Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a question he did not like during a public appearance in West Palm Beach. "That's a nasty, impolite question," said Scalia, himself an expert on tough questioning, and he at first refused to answer it.
    This morning we tracked down student Sarah Jeck, the Florida Atlantic University honors college junior who incurred Scalia's wrath, and she seemed a little stunned, but not cowed, by his reaction. "He can dish it out, but he can't take it, I guess," she says. "I'm generally a very polite person. I'm really surprised the way it turned out. It was not a preposterous question."

    So what did Sarah Jeck ask that caused the volatile justice to erupt? According to her own notes and this account in today's Sun-Sentinel, Jeck asked whether the rationale for Scalia's well-known opposition to cameras in the Supreme Court was "vitiated" by the facts that the Court allows public visitors to view arguments and releases full argument transcripts to the public, and that justices go out on book tours.

    It's that last part that probably grated, because Scalia could, at that precise moment, have been said to be on a book tour. He was speaking before the Palm Beach County Forum Club and Bar Association, while his book -- Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, co-authored by Bryan Garner -- was for sale at a table outside the hall.

    Jeck, a political science major, is taking a judicial process class and is looking at the issue of cameras in the courts as her thesis topic. So when she learned Scalia was coming to town, it seemed like a reasonable question to her and her prof Martin Sweet. By tradition, the club invites local university students to forum events and lets them ask questions. "We knew it was a little jab, but his response was unanticipated," she says.

    After Scalia made his comment to Jeck, he took several written questions and then circled back to Jeck's query, according to this story in the Palm Beach Post. Scalia said he originally supported the idea of camera access in the courts, but came to oppose it because the inevitable "30-second takeouts" would not give a true picture of what is going on. "Why should I be a party to the miseducation of the American people?" According to Jeck, Scalia made no reference to his book tour as a possible contradiction to his views on public access to the Court.

    We asked Jeck two more questions in our brief phone interview this morning. First, is she planning to go to law school? "Yes," she said without hesitation. And second, did she buy Scalia's book? Just as definitively, she said, "I'm a college student. I don't have $30."

    Footnote: Sweet, Jeck's professor and pre-law advisor, told us today he is "incredibly proud" of her questioning and demeanor. "It was certainly a pointed question, but not designed to be impolite or nasty," said Sweet, a Supreme Court scholar in his own right. "The point of learning is not to stroke somebody's ego."
    The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times : Florida Student Asks Scalia a Question -- and Gets Scolded

    What is it that makes repugs so bloody angry all the time...and why is it always when someone asks them a pointed question?
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

  2. #2
    Elite Member Mrs P's Avatar
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    Oct 2008


    I find Scalia interesting for his legal philosophy and personality. I don't like or agree with many of his decisions, but I appreciate that they are due to his philosophy of original meaning. He's great when asking questions during oral arguments and his written opinions make for a good read.

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    Apr 2008


    I'm having a senior moment....was Scalia or Alito's father who was the Head of the NY Italian Nazi Party just prior to WW2?

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