Antonin Scalia

Scalia's Purge

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The Supreme Court justice gave a speech yesterday in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and according to the AP account, neglected to mention that the ground rules for hearing his precious words were that they were not to be tape-recorded under any circumstance. So, two reporters in the audience pushed "play/record" on their hand-helds. Then,

During the speech, a woman identifying herself as a deputy federal marshal demanded that a reporter for The Associated Press erase a tape recording of the justice's comments. She said the justice had asked that his appearance not be recorded.

The reporter initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her hands. The exchange occurred in the front row of the auditorium while Scalia delivered his speech about the Constitution.

The deputy, who identified herself as Melanie Rube, also made a reporter for The Hattiesburg American erase her tape.

It's hard to figure out what's worse—Scalia's inappropriate use of police power, or the reporters' laughable cowardice (to say nothing of their failure to capitalize on a golden newsmaking/martyrdom opportunity). Seeing a reporter sue a Justice for forcibly whitewashing history ? now that's a Supreme Court case I'd pay to see.

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  1. “Seeing a reporter sue a Justice for forcibly whitewashing history ? now that’s a Supreme Court case I’d pay to see.”

    He still wouldn’t excuse himself from judging the case though.

  2. At one of these speeches, Scalia was given some kind of defender of the First Amendment award.

    I believe that says it all, in regards to why he would ban any recording of these events.

    Shit, it was an event like this that forced him to recuse himself from the Pledge of Allegiance case. However, the only reason he did actually bow out of this case, and not the energy probe case, is that he felt like the rest of the Justices would come down so hard on Newdow, he didn?t need to join in.

  3. Everyone involved here was an idiot. If Scalia doesn’t want to be quoted, he should stop making speeches where reporters could be in the audience. If reporters go to a speech at a private institution, are informed of restrictive groundrules for their presence, and stick around anyway, they are jerks for breaking such rules. That said, the campus cops might have been within their rights to call on the local gendarmes to evict the journos, but no way should a federal officer get involved in such a dispute, and certainly not at the behest of a justice. No style points awarded for anyone.

    Scalia’s behavior smacks of the attitude judges adopt in their courtrooms, that their word is law, and once they have ruled on something that is the way it is going to be. This may be necessary for efficient administration of justice, but it doesn’t wear well outside of the courthouse.

    Kevin

  4. Kevrob — The reporters weren’t informed ahead of time.

  5. …Scalia’s inappropriate use of police power..

    Only if he, authorized Deputy Rube, to order the erasure. It’s not clear from the story that, that is what happened. He can request abstention from recording all he wants, but actually enforcing compliance is another matter.

    Were I the reporter, I would have yelled out, “Justice Scalia, this federal marshal is trying to FORCE ME to erase the tape. Are my rights being violated? Given his often pro-liberty votes in cases, it wouldn’t surprise me if he would respond something like, “yes, she may not force you to erase it but I’m asking you to do so since ‘no recording’ was a stipulation of my talk.

  6. Matt, the article did say “The recording-device warning was made before the college speech.”

    That’s why I used that handy word, “if.” So Scalia and crew look bad at the H.S., while the journalistas share the glory at the college.

    Kevin

  7. If he’s innocent, he should have nothing to hide, right?

  8. Didn’t conservatives piss themselves over something similar regarding a speech a democrat some time ago?

  9. The deputy’s name is Melanie Rube?

    Deputy RUBE???

    Sounds like a great title for a new cartoon.

  10. Supreme court justices need to shut up!

  11. Bowie is a performer, performing music licensed to him by the record company that actually owns it. You cannot record it because of that license.

    Um, no. David Bowie is a songwriter and controls his own music publishing, and I can assure you that he, like most songwriters who are not doing works-for-hire, owns his own copyrights. The various labels for which he has recorded own the copyrights to the recordings, not the songs.

  12. For those wishing to comment to Melanie Rube directly about the forced erasure of the reporters’ tapes, her work number in Mississippi is (601) 582-8464.

  13. Actually I’m not surprised at this. Scalia got caught making a statement that was later used against him, and he doesn’t want that to happen again.

    My problem is this.. he made a speech at a public gathering. This wasn’t a private function. Yes, he didn’t tell people “don’t record what I’m saying” but that doesn’t mean he had that authority either.

    This does not bode well for a man who is supposed to be this great “champion” of the Constitution. Scalia needs to re-read that document instead of just jawing about it.

  14. Scalia is perfectly within his rights and within the constitution to request that he not be recorded, and to make that a stipulation of his speech. David Bowie doesn’t violate my constitutional rights when the guys at the door to his concert take away my digital recorder. The question arises when the federal marshall gets involved. It’s not clear whether or not SHE is within her bounds, but that reflects very little on the justice himself.

  15. Scalia is perfectly within his rights and within the constitution to request that he not be recorded, and to make that a stipulation of his speech.

    Bowie is a performer, performing music licensed to him by the record company that actually owns it. You cannot record it because of that license. Scalia on the other hand is a public official and his statements are a matter of public record, and usage thereof is not protected by any license. If he doesn’t want anything he says used against him, he should keep his mouth shut and stay behind the bench. He is (ab)using his office to shield himself from the scrutiny that everyone else will get when they make a speech.

  16. I went to high school in Hattiesburg. It sounds as though absolutely nothing has changed.

    “Rube” is appropriate for the majority of the people living there.

  17. OK, Listen up!!! The Deputy Marshal Melanie Rube is my sister and she did not “demand” nor “confiscate” the tapes. The Marshals had explained to both schools the day before, that “no electronic recordings were allowed”. So when she saw that these 2 reporters were recording, she went over to them, sat down quietly beside them & explained that they needed to erase the tapes, which they did. The end. She never took the tapes.
    This has gotten so blown out of proportion, as usual by the LIBERAL PRESS>>>

  18. OK, Listen up!!! The Deputy Marshal Melanie Rube is my sister and she did not “demand” nor “confiscate” the tapes. The Marshals had explained to both schools the day before, that “no electronic recordings were allowed”. So when she saw that these 2 reporters were recording, she went over to them, sat down quietly beside them & explained that they needed to erase the tapes, which they did. The end. She never took the tapes.
    This has gotten so blown out of proportion, as usual by the LIBERAL PRESS>>>

  19. OK, Listen up!!! The Deputy Marshal Melanie Rube is my sister and she did not “demand” nor “confiscate” the tapes. The Marshals had explained to both schools the day before, that “no electronic recordings were allowed”. So when she saw that these 2 reporters were recording, she went over to them, sat down quietly beside them & explained that they needed to erase the tapes, which they did. The end. She never took the tapes.
    This has gotten so blown out of proportion, as usual by the LIBERAL PRESS>>>

  20. OK, Listen up!!! The Deputy Marshal Melanie Rube is my sister and she did not “demand” nor “confiscate” the tapes. The Marshals had explained to both schools the day before, that “no electronic recordings were allowed”. So when she saw that these 2 reporters were recording, she went over to them, sat down quietly beside them & explained that they needed to erase the tapes, which they did. The end. She never took the tapes.
    This has gotten so blown out of proportion, as usual by the LIBERAL PRESS>>>

  21. Posting once is usually enough. About Rube’s physical seizure of the tapes, it looks as if it’s your word against the reporters’ (and all print and Internet articles on the story, both liberal and conservative).

    From Fox News (April 8, 2004):

    “The reporter initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her hands.”

    From the New York Times (April 12, 2004):

    “Thirty-five minutes into the speech we were approached by a woman who identified herself as a deputy U.S. marshal,” Ms. Konz told me in a telephone conversation on Friday. “She said that we should not be recording and that she needed to have our tapes.”

    No matter whether Rube spoke in a quiet or loud voice, U.S. law was broken in her action, and an apology and possibly disciplinary action is in order. This is, you’ll remember, a free country; let’s make sure it remains so, and not make excuses for illegal seizures (no matter whether we’re related to the perpetrators or not).

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