By Tony Mauro
In an interview set for broadcast on C-SPAN this Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia vigorously defended recent controversial decisions, including the 2010 Citizens United case that has been blamed for flooding election campaigns with millions of dollars in corporate donations.
Asked if there is too much money in politics, Scalia said no, arguing that as in other First Amendment contexts, more speech is better."I forget what the figures are, but I think we spend less on our presidential campaigns each year, when there's a presidential election, than the country spends on cosmetics," Scalia said.
The interview was part of Scalia's book tour promoting Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, written with legal writing expert Bryan Garner. C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, a friend and colleague of Scalia's during the Nixon Administration, conducted the interview.
Lamb asked Scalia about the controversy following Scalia's dissent last month in the Arizona immigration case, in which Scalia cited recent statements by President Barack Obama on changes in immigration policy. Critics said that by doing so, Scalia was making more of a political than a legal statement. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne called on Scalia to resign. It seemed from the interview that Scalia was unaware of Dionne's attack, and he said using material from outside the record of a case is not uncommon.
"I cited the president's statement, which seemed to me perfectly fair," said Scalia. "I did not say the president's statement was wrong. I just said that what the Attorney General had told us, concerning enforcement priorities, was simply, as the public record shows, not -- not the sole problem."
Lamb also asked Scalia about a perennial issue between them: allowing cameras in the Supreme Court, which Lamb supports but Scalia opposes. Scalia repeated his argument that brief video soundbites or takeouts that would result from camera access would mislead the public.
Lamb challenged Scalia on the point. "But the First Amendment doesn't go, 'takeouts are not good. We can't have those 15 second sound bites,'" Lamb said. Scalia's retort: "The First Amendment has nothing to do with whether we have to televise our proceedings."