April 28, 2008
Contact:
Leah Yoon, NPR

   

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA
DISCUSSES HIS NEW BOOK,
BEING A PART OF THE MCCAIN DREAM TICKET
AND HIS ETERNAL GRATITUDE TOWARDS
PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH

ON NPR NEWS' MORNING EDITION
MONDAY, APRIL 28

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE MONDAY MORNING


April 27, 2008; Washington, D.C. – In a rare interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia airing Monday, April 28 on Morning Edition, NPR News' Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg speaks with Justice Scalia talks about the Court, the Constitution, and his new book, "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges," co-written with legal writing expert Bryan Garner.

On whether he would accept an opportunity to be McCain's running mate as Vice President:
"That is not only a hypothetical question, it's a ridiculous question. For one thing, Senator McCain's…one of the accomplishments he was proud, proudest of, was McCain-Feingold Campaign Financing Reform and I thought the whole thing was unconstitutional, the court approved it but not with my blessing. So when someone, you know, what should I say…disparages what you think is your life's principle achievement, you're not likely to want him to be on your presidential ticket. Besides which ask…c'mon ask my wife I'm a lousy politician, that's not my…not my style."

On the criticism for his [Justice Scalia] flag burning decision:
"I got a lot of heat from that opinion, really serious, biting criticism from the quarter I normally don't get criticism from, that is to say from the right rather than the left. And I just want to give credit to a wonderful gentleman who was President Bush I. He wrote a handwritten note, not to me, I think he would have thought that was improper, but he wrote it to Maureen [Justice Scalia's wife] saying, I know your husband has been getting a lot of criticism for his flag burning decision. Tell him not to worry about it, he did the right thing. Isn't that a really nice thing for the President to do? Gee, he had a lot of other things to worry about. I'm eternally grateful for that, it was such a nice gesture."

Totenberg, the "dean" of the Supreme Court press corps, has been reporting on the Supreme Court since 1968. She has conducted lengthy interviews with other Justices, including Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Harry Blackmun, and Justice William Brennan.

All excerpts must be credited to NPR News Morning Edition. Television usage must include on-screen NPR News credit with NPR logo.

Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C. and Renée Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, Calif., is public radio's most listened-to program with more than 13 million weekly listeners. Morning Edition continues to be a destination for high profile newsmakers. In the last week, the program has conducted live interviews with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and aired an interview with the Dalai Lama.

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-NPR-



EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW:

Nina Totenberg: When I was, earlier today I was, taping Inside Washington and my colleague Charles…I asked my colleague Charles Krauthammer, I said "you know I'm going to interview Scalia today, got any ideas for a question?" And he said, "Yea, ask him about my dream ticket, ask him if he'd accept the slot of Vice President with McCain."

Justice Scalia: (laughs) That is not only a hypothetical question, it's a ridiculous question.

Nina: (laughs) Why?

Justice Scalia: For one thing, Senator McCain's…one of the accomplishments he was proud, proudest of, was McCain-Feingold Campaign Financing Reform and I thought the whole thing was unconstitutional, the court approved it but not with my blessing. So when someone, you know, what should I say…disparages what you think is your life's principle achievement, you're not likely to want him to be on your presidential ticket. Besides which ask…c'mon ask my wife I'm a lousy politician, that's not my…not my style.

Nina: You'd put your foot in your mouth you think?

Justice Scalia: No, I wouldn't put my foot in my mouth; I might say what I thought.

Nina: And?

Justice Scalia: And that's not what politicians should do.

Nina: So, and back on the subject of McCain-Feingold, who better to understand the nation's election laws better than politicians why shouldn't they write them the way they think?

Justice Scalia: You know Nina, you might have something there I think I could tour the country, call it the Straight Talk Express. How 'bout that? (laughs) Now don't…

Nina: Don't tempt you?

Justice Scalia: Tell Charles to forget about it. Dream ticket…that's very funny. He was pulling your leg I'm sure.

Nina: No! He wasn't pulling my leg. It's his dream ticket, he figures the speeches would be well written at least…and well delivered. You know, in the book you write that you, you can't write well unless you read, so what do you read?

Justice Scalia: Ooh! What do I read? You know I don't do a lot of reading anymore because I read so many opinions. But what have I read, I've read good stuff. I don't read the latest novel that's come down the pike. There are so many good books of English literature that I haven't read, I'm much more likely to put, pull out something that's tried and true and has stood the test of time…

****


Justice Scalia: One of the great advantages, Nina, of the living constitution is that the living constitution jurist is always a happy fella because the case always comes out the way he thinks it ought to. He comes home at night and his wife asks him, dear did you have a nice day at court? He says, oh yes you know. We had a constitutional case today, and you know what? The Constitution meant exactly what I thought it ought to mean. No kidding, because that's the only criterion. Unlike Scalia, poor Scalia has to look back, and it doesn't matter what he thinks it ought to mean. He has to look back and think, what did it mean when the people adopted it? In the flag burning case, my understanding of the First Amendment was that you are entitled to communicate for the government, and for the Supreme Court, and for the flag. And the communication doesn't have to be in writing it can be in morse code, it can be in semaphore, it can be by burning the flag. So I was the fifth vote. It did not make me happy and the story you are alluding to is when I came down to breakfast the next morning my wife Maureen, who is a very conservative woman it must be acknowledged, she's preparing breakfast, scrambling eggs or something, and the Washington Post is there on the table and it says, Supreme Court permits burning of American flag, and Maureen is humming It's a Grand Old Flag. (Laughter) I don't need that, and the living constitution jurist never has to put up with it.

Nina: Did you get any breakfast that day?

Justice Scalia: I did get breakfast (laughter) She was quite tolerant. And you know, let me tell you something about that. I got a lot of heat from that opinion, really serious, biting criticism from the quarter I normally don't get criticism from, that is to say from the right rather than the left. And I just want to give credit to a wonderful gentleman who was President Bush I. He wrote a handwritten note, not to me, I think he would have thought that was improper, but he wrote it to Maureen saying, I know your husband has been getting a lot of criticism for his flag burning decision. Tell him not to worry about it, he did the right thing. Isn't that a really nice thing for the President to do? Gee, he had a lot of other things to worry about. I'm eternally grateful for that, it was such a nice gesture.