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It seems Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has a bit of a history when it comes to downplaying the rights of the media.Scalia set off a media firestorm earlier this month when he told Charlie Rose he abhors New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court decision that gave reporters the right to libel a public figure as long as they don’t do so with “reckless” disregard for the truth.
But this isn’t the first time Scalia has suggested the press be reined in.
Back in 2004, rookie reporter Antoinette Konz was covering the justice’s speech at a Mississippi high school when she got in trouble for recording the justice.
”30-five minutes into the speech we were approached by a woman who identified herself as a deputy U.S. marshal,” Konz told The New York Times at the time. ”She said that we should not be recording and that she needed to have our tapes.”
That behaviour, while not out of place for a man with Scalia’s personality, does seem a bit odd for a jurist who claims he believes in a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
Scalia considers himself to be a textualist, meaning he believes that even though the world has changed dramatically since the Constitution was written, we should still interpret it the way the founders originally intended.
But the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly allows for freedom of the press and is meant to protect against such bullying by people in positions of power.
For her part, the deputy U.S. marshall said she was simply enforcing Scalia’s mandate that nobody tape his speeches. Scalia later apologized and said he’d allow reporters to record his speeches for accuracy in the future, the Times reported.
But the Times noted that the justice’s suggestion that he had some kind of First Amendment right to bar visual and audio coverage of his speeches was offfensive.
“With due respect, Justice Scalia,” the Times noted, “this is about something larger than being camera shy.”