The Case Against Scalia's Rube

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has fired off a letter of protest [PDF] to Attorney General John Ashcroft regarding Wednesday?s seizure and erasure of reporters? recordings of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Excerpt:

The actions taken by the federal marshals not only violate fundamental tenets of press, but directly violate the law set forth in the Privacy Protection Act, 42 U.S.C.? 2000aa ((a),which states that government officers and employees investigating a criminal offense may not ?search for or seize any work product materials possessed by a person reasonably believed to have a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper, book, broadcast, or other similar form of public communication.?

This statute makes clear that it is the policy of the U.S. government to provide special protections for the press against searches and seizures by law enforcement personnel, except in limited circumstances. The exceptions allow federal officers to search and seize materials from members of the news media only when a member of the press has committed a crime unrelated to the possession or withholding of the materials or where there is a necessity to prevent death or serious bodily injury.

The letter also argues that the actions violated Justice Department guidelines that approval from the Attorney General himself is required before compelling a journalist to cough up material.

More legalities chewed on, and conflicting accounts given, in articles by the L.A. Times, Washington Post, and New York Times (registration required for latter two).

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  1. I’ve created a username and password at the WaPo website for Reason readers.

    The UN is: reasonreader@hotmail.com
    The PW is: reasonreader

    Ditto for the NYT:

    UN: reasonreader
    PW: reasonreader

    If you find other newspapers with “free” memberships like that, please create a “reasonreader” account like these and post here.

  2. It’s truly incredible that Scalia told people that they don’t “revere” the Constitution enough, then had his jackbooted thugs make sure no one could produce evidence that he had ever said such a thing.

    Or at least it would be incredible if my opinion of just about every high official in Washington weren’t already so low.

  3. So Deputy Rube gets her wrists slapped over this, Scalia lets her take the fall, and he gets another badge-carrying winged monkey do to his dirty work. And he gets to make his speeches about how he “respects” the Constitution…

    “Pay no attention to the thugs below me! I am Scalia, the all-powerful!”

  4. I’ve heard Scalie was actually a pretty decent sort when he was first appointed. What happened?

  5. Well, maybe its for the best, in a way. The Supreme Court is, after all, one of the best gaurantors of our freedom. And the Supreme Court, having no enforcement arm of its own, relies at root on the other branches willingness to obey its decrees. And that depends to a considerable extent on everyone’s perception of the Supreme Court as a relatively honest and unbiased abitrator. I don’t know what Scalia said on the tape, but it’s Scalia, so it could hardly be expected to shine honor on the Court’s reputation. So maybe it’s just as well it was erased.

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