Justice Antonin Scalia, known as one of the Supreme Court’s most contentious justices, called questions about the death penalty “laughable” last night and vehemently denied his court cares about politics when making decisions.
Scalia was on-hand last night at a panel hosted by Thomson Reuters to discuss his new book “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.”
But the conversation turned ugly when Scalia – who said it was distracting for reporters to take pictures and demanded they stop – addressed public perception that Supreme Court justices pay homage to a certain political party when handing down rulings.
“It really enrages me to hear people refer to it as a politicized court,” Scalia spat out, adding that he “couldn’t care less who the president is.”
His colleagues vote whichever way they do “because that’s who they are. They were selected because of who they are.”
“Maybe the legislature and the president are not as stupid as you think,” Scalia said. “They assuredly picked those people because of who they are and when they get to the court they remain who they were.”
Watch Scalia’s full flip out here, courtesy of Reuters:
Scalia also used last night’s panel to defend his judicial style. He calls himself an “originalist,” which means he rules based on what the Constitution said and what the framers originally intended, not based on the country’s legislative history.
“You don’t say the statutes morph over time,” he said of his beliefs. “They mean what they meant when there were adopted.”
Based on that logic, the debate over whether the death penalty is constitutional or not is “laughable,” according to Scalia, who says it was the only penalty for felonies when it was adopted.
Use of the death penalty was first recorded in the 1600s.
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