U.S. Supreme Court

Me? Cantankerous? Scalia Says It Isn't True, Needles Posner in Defense of Immigration Dissent

Justice Antonin Scalia is defending his controversial dissent in an immigration case and his contrary personality in interviews broadcast on Sunday.

“I’m not cantankerous,” Scalia told Fox News Sunday. “I express myself vividly.” The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog has the story. Asked if he goes out of his way to “push people’s buttons,” Scalia replied, “It’s fun to push buttons.”

Scalia also defended his dissent mentioning President Obama’s immigration policy in the interview with Fox News and a separate interview with C-Span. Critics had contended the remarks were more of a political statement, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

“I cited the president’s statement, which seemed to me perfectly fair,” Scalia said in the C-Span interview. He also remarked on the dissent in the Fox News interview, Bloomberg News reports. “It demonstrates the point that Arizona is being prevented in enforcing immigration law even when the executive, rightly or wrongly, simply chooses not to enforce it.”

Scalia wrote the dissent in Arizona v. United States, which struck down three sections of an Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration. Scalia referred to a new federal program exempting some younger illegal aliens from immigration enforcement. Scalia wrote: “The court opinion’s looming specter of inutterable horror [if a portion of the statute were upheld] seems to me not so horrible and even less looming. But there has come to pass, and is with us today, the specter that Arizona and the states that support it predicted: A federal government that does not want to enforce the immigration laws as written, and leaves the states’ borders unprotected against immigrants whom those laws would exclude.”

Judge Richard Posner of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said he wouldn’t be surprised if Scalia’s opinion were quoted in campaign ads. Scalia had a response in the Fox News interview, according to the Bloomberg News account. “He’s a court of appeals judge, isn’t he?” Scalia said. “He doesn’t sit in judgment of my opinions as far as I’m concerned.”

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