RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We know that NPR's Nina Totenberg asks the hard questions, and she did last night when she asked Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg about falling asleep at the State of the Union speech last month. Nina interviewed Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia before an audience of 1500. It was an event put on by the Smithsonian. We'll let Nina take it from there.
NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: On the Supreme Court, Scalia and Ginsburg are the leading voices of conservatism and liberalism. In their written opinions, even the footnotes can be ferocious. But they are also true and longtime friends. As Scalia said of Ginsburg last night, what's not to like - except her views on the law?
As the evening wore on, the two justices re-fought their legal disagreements - some of them decades old - as if they were fresh wounds, each one taking a verbal saber to make unsparing slashes in the other's legal reasoning. But the best hijinks of the evening came when I asked Ginsburg a different sort of question, captured by CNN.
(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)
TOTENBERG: You went to the State of the Union this year, and you fell asleep.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG: As I often do.
ANTONIN SCALIA: Serves you right, I say.
GINSBURG: The audience, for the most part, is awake because they're bobbing up and down all the time. And we sit there as stone-faced, sober judges, but we're not - at least I wasn't - 100 percent sober because before we went to the State of the Union...
GINSBURG: ...We had dinner together. And I vowed this year, just sparkling water, stay away from the wine. But in the end, the dinner was so delicious it needed wine, too. So I got a call when I came home from one of my granddaughters, and she said, Bubbie, you were sleeping at the State of the Union.
TOTENBERG: Ginsburg went on to say that these sleepy times really make her miss her retired colleague, Justice David Souter, who would pinch her when she was about to nod off. Her seatmates now, she said, are way too polite in their nudges. Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M ONLY SLEEPING")
THE BEATLES: (Singing) I'm only sleeping. Everybody seems to think I'm lazy. I don't mind.
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