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Entries in Justice Antonin Scalia (3)

Thursday
Jul192012

Scalia: ‘I Haven’t Had a Falling Out with Justice Roberts’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed reports that the recent health care decision created a rift between him and Chief Justice John Roberts.

“Who told you that?” Scalia asked CNN’s Piers Morgan, who said he had read the allegations in news reports. The interview aired Wednesday night.

Roberts sided with the liberals on the Court to uphold the individual mandate under the taxing clause and Scalia, Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito wrote a blistering joint dissent.

“You should not believe what you read about the Court in the newspaper,” Scalia said. “Because the information has either been made up or given to the newspapers by somebody who is violating a confidence, which means that person is not reliable.”

Morgan asked him, “So you have had no falling out with Justice Roberts?”

“No, I haven’t had a falling out with Justice Roberts,” Scalia replied.

Scalia said that in general there are clashes in the Court “on legal questions, but not personally. The press likes to paint us you know, nine scorpions in a bottle, and that’s just not the case at all.”

Although he wasn’t asked about the cases decided in the term that just ended, Scalia did not shy away from other controversial cases.

Morgan asked him about Citizens United and campaign spending.

“I think Thomas Jefferson would have said the more speech, the better. That’s what the First Amendment is all about. So long as the people know where the speech is coming from,” Scalia said.

But it is Bush v. Gore, the contentious decision that put George W. Bush in the White House in 2001, that Scalia said most people ask him about.

“It comes up all the time and my usual response is ‘get over it‘,” Scalia said. He added that he had no regrets about the decision. “Especially because it’s clear that the thing would have ended up the same way anyway. The press did extensive research into what would have happened if what Al Gore wanted done had been done county by county, and he would have lost anyway.”

He reiterated his long held belief that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.

“My view is regardless of whether you think prohibiting abortion is good or whether you think prohibiting abortion is bad, regardless of how you come out on that, my only point is the Constitution does not say anything about it. It leaves it up to democratic choice. ”

The interview came as Scalia is launching a book tour for Reading the Law: the Interpretation of Legal Texts co-authored with Bryan A. Garner. The book explains Scalia’s textual approach to the law.

The law, Scalia said, “should be based on the text of the Constitution, reasonably interpreted.”

Morgan also asked Scalia about the secret to his successful 52 year marriage with his wife Maureen and their nine children and 33 grandchildren. “What was the secret? Maureen made it clear if we split up I would get the children,” Scalia quipped.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

FBI Turns Off 3,000 GPS Devices Following Supreme Court Ruling

iStockphot​o/Thinksto​ck(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. Supreme Court decision prompted the FBI to turn off nearly 3,000 Global Positioning System (GPS) devices used to track suspects, according to the agency’s general counsel.

When the decision–U.S. v. Jones–was released at the end of January, agents were ordered to stop using GPS devices immediately and told to await guidance on retrieving the devices, FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann said in a recent talk at a University of San Francisco conference.  Weissmann said the court’s ruling lacked clarity and the agency needs new guidance or it risks having cases overturned.

The Jones case stemmed from the conviction of night club owner Antoine Jones on drug charges. Law enforcement had used a variety of techniques to link him to co-conspirators in the case, including information gathered from a GPS device that was placed on a Jeep primarily used by Jones. Law enforcement had no valid warrant to place the device on the car.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a five-member majority, held that the installation and use of the device constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment based on trespassing grounds. The ruling overturned Jones’ conviction.

“It is important to be clear about what occurred in this case,” Scalia wrote. “The government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”

It was a narrow ruling only directly impacting those devices that were physically placed on vehicles.

Weissmann said it wasn’t Scalia’s majority opinion that caused such turmoil in the bureau, but a concurring opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. Alito, whose opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, agreed with the Court’s conclusion in the case but wrote separately because his legal reasoning differed from the majority.

Alito focused not on the attachment of the device, but the fact that law enforcement monitored Jones for about a month. Alito said “the use of longer-term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy.”  He also suggested that Scalia’s reliance on laws of trespass, will “provide no protection” for surveillance accomplished without committing a trespass.

“For example,” Alito wrote, “suppose that the officers in the present case had followed respondent by surreptitiously activating a stolen vehicle detection system that came with the car when it was purchased?”

In his talk at a University of San Francisco Law Review Symposium, Weissmann suggested that Alito’s concurrence means that several members of the court are concerned with long-term surveillance by technologies beyond GPS systems and that the FBI needs new guidance in order to ensure that evidence does not get thrown out.

“I just can’t stress enough,” Weissmann said, “what a sea change that is perceived to be within the department.”

He said that after agents were told to turn off the devices, his office had to issue guidance on how some of the devices that had been used without a warrant could actually be retrieved without violating the law.

Weissmann said the FBI is working on two memos for agents in the field. One seeks to give guidance about using GPS devices.  A second one targets other technologies beyond the GPS as they may also face restrictions.

“I think the court did not wrestle with the problems their decision creates,” said Weissmann.

In the Jones opinion, he said, the court didn’t offer much clarity or any bright line rules that would have been helpful to law enforcement.

Catherine Crump, an attorney with the ACLU, welcomed the court’s ruling as a first step toward preserving privacy rights.

“Alito’s concurrence concerned the FBI because if tracking someone’s movements violates their privacy, that should be true no matter what technology the FBI uses,” says Crump. “The FBI now needs to give guidance to agents in the field, and the Alito decision raises serious questions about the constitutionality of other ways of tracking suspects.”

As for Antoine Jones, the man whose conviction was thrown out because of the ruling, the government has announced that it wants to retry Jones without using evidence obtained from the GPS device. The trial is expected to start in May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov022010

Can a State Ban the Sale of Violent Video Games to Children?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Several Justices on the Supreme Court expressed skepticism Tuesday regarding a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors.

“California asks this Court“ said California Deputy Attorney General Zackery P. Morazzini “to adopt a rule of law that permits states to restrict  minors' ability to purchase deviant, violent video games that the legislature has determined can be harmful.”

But justices struggled with the scope of the law and if it could be stretched to apply to other violent mediums.

“Some of Grimm’s Fairy Tales  are quite grim to tell you the truth,” said Justice Antonin Scalia. “Are you going to ban those too?”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “I mean, if you are supposing a category of violent  materials dangerous to children, then how do you cut it off at video games? What about films? What about comic  books?”

Chief Justice John Roberts was clearly troubled by the impact of the games on minors.  In describing one game he said,“We do not have a tradition in this country of telling children they should watch people actively hitting schoolgirls over the head with a shovel so they'll beg with mercy, being merciless and decapitating them, shooting people in the leg so they  fall down.”

Paul Smith, a lawyer for the makers of the videos, told the Court it is the role of parents, not the government, to protect the children from the games. “Parents have been doing that since time immemorial," he said. The question before this Court is whether you are going to create an entirely new  exception under the First Amendment.”

Smith dismissed concerns that violent video games need special attention because they are a relatively new medium.

“We do have a new medium here,” he said, “ but we have a history in this country of new  mediums coming along and people vastly overreacting to them, thinking the sky is falling, our children are all going to be turned into criminals.”

The law was passed in 2005 but legal challenges have stopped it from ever taking effect. It provides for up to a $1,000 fine to retailers who sell violent video games , although the fine does not apply to sales clerks if they have no ownership interest in the business. The California legislature, in passing the law, considered numerous studies that established a link between playing the violent games with an increase in aggressive thoughts, anti-social behavior and desensitization to violence in both minors and adults.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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