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U.S. Supreme Court

Scalia Accepts Invite of Tea Party Leader, Criticized for ‘Exceedingly Poor Judgment’

Posted Jan 5, 2011 7:42 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Justice Antonin Scalia has accepted a speaking invitation from a Tea Party leader, drawing fire from some law professors and a liberal group.

Scalia will speak to incoming House members about the Constitution at the behest of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who founded the House’s Tea Party Caucus, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Jan. 24 topic will be separation of powers.

The meeting was described as bipartisan and open to all members of Congress. But several law professors who spoke to the newspaper criticized Scalia, saying the meeting appeared to politicize the court.

One of the critics was George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. He told the Times that Scalia is showing "exceedingly poor judgment." Nan Aron, the president of the liberal Alliance for Justice, also criticized Scalia in a news release. “Justice Scalia should protect the integrity of the court and cancel his appearance at this blatantly partisan, right-wing event,” she said.

M. Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former clerk to Scalia, supported his mentor. "My guess is that, schedule permitting, Scalia would be happy to speak on the same topic to any similar group of members of Congress who invited him,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Republican leaders have pledged to require their members to cite constitutional authority to support any legislation they introduce, and they plan to read the Constitution aloud on Thursday to show their support for the document. That plan also has critics, the Washington Post reports. They worry the document will be “misconstrued as the immutable word of God,” the story says.

Additional coverage:

Wall Street Journal: "Congress Rediscovers the Constitution"

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